Sunday, June 3, 2007

Scammers gonna scam (and hate)

This post isn't related to Arizona in particular, or nature, or sweet family things. It doesn't even have any photos. For that stuff, please go back to my Butterfly Wonderland post or my Phoenix Art Museum post.


So a scammer called me today. Again.

I've gotten dozens of calls from the "Windows technical support" guys (it's almost always guys, and this one seemed peeved with me for being in possession of both a uterus and a brain), and usually it interrupts my day for a minute or less, and I hang up on them. I know I should always hang up on them, but sometimes I just can't help it. I want them to at least know that I know they're a scam. (I succeeded with the tactic once with a different scammer. They got scared, hung up, and never called back. It was very satisfying.)

I'm always polite, however long the conversation. Even with the scammers. I always say no thank you; please don't call; thanks for taking us off your list; have a nice day. I figure some of these people might be duped into the scam themselves (though I'm probably being way too generous there); and besides, I really am trying to make a point. They're the jerks, not me. But sometimes I engage in a conversation, like I did today. Call me a futile-causes moral crusader.

This issue particularly gets me because I know several people who have been taken in by scammers just like this guy -- pretending to be computer support, or banks, or repairmen, or guys protecting you from the "other" scammers, or long-lost relatives or probably a million other guises I can't rattle off at the moment. People I know and love have lost money to these losers. They (the loved ones in question) might be naive, sure, but so what? These scammers play on people's willingness to trust other people. Pretty evil.

And these guys are nice. They're deferential, complimentary, respectful, and cheerful. They'll tell you what a wise decision you're making or how there should be more compassionate people like you in the world. Until you don't do exactly what they say. Then they get mean. One recent call told me "Your computer is going to be all messed up and then you're going to be in big trouble," before yelling at me.

I only regret that I didn't have my recorder handy today, but below is a near-verbatim transcript of our conversations (there were two). I'm sharing it in hopes that maybe people will realize just how nasty these guys are. I'll try to have the recorder running next time. Maybe I'll even troll one. That seems fun.

If you're inclined to trust anyone when you didn't solicit the interaction, just don't. Hang up and call the organization (your bank, say, or Microsoft, which is in no way associated with these guys). If the issue is geniune, the organization will understand your caution, and if it's not, you've avoided a scam.

If you're still inclined to trust scammers (and I've had conversations with people who remain unconvinced that others could be so calculatingly devious), newsflash: They're not nice. You don't have to be nice back. Proof? Here's the conversation (warning: F words near the end):

Him: Hello; this is Dustin from Windows technical support about your computer.

Me: Hi, yeah. I've talked to your "department" (the sarcastic quotes were definitely implied) several dozen times before. I'm not interested.

Him: Ma'am (he called me "Ma'am" no fewer than 20 times, but I'll omit some for brevity -- do they think this somehow magically makes me like them?), how can you be not interested?

Me: Because I know what you're offering. My computer is fine. No thank you.

Him: No. Wait. Wait ma'am. Please, ma'am. Ma'am, you don't understand.

Me: I think I do. And no thank you. Please don't cal...

Him: Ma'am! Wait, ma'am! You don't understand. Your computer is send...

Me: Yes. I know. My computer is "sending reports," and you need me to download software that hooks you up with it. No. Thank. You. Do not call...

Him: NO! You don't understand! Your computer is sending us reports...

Me: Mmm hmm...

Him: And we need you to turn on your computer...

Me (sitting at a computer that's on): No.

Him: Why not?!

Me: I'm not interested. Please stop calling here.

Him: Ma'am, just turn on your computer! I need to see some things...

Me: If you're really getting reports about what's going on, why do you need me to do anything?

Him: Ma'am, why are you being difficult? I am being nice to you. You do not understand.

Me: I think I'm being very accommodating. I'm going to hang up now. Goodbye.

Him: Ma'am! You do not understand about computers!

Me: I think I do, actually.

Him: I think you don't. I understand, and I'm trying to tell you. Why are you being so upset?

Me: I won't be upset, if you hang up.

Him: No, ma'am, you don't understand your computer. I just need to you to run it with me...

Me: And see scary error reports, and install something that lets you control my computer, and probably sell me something besides. I don't think so.

Him: Ma'am, why are you saying these things?

Me: Why are you doing them?

Him: Ma'am, I'm only trying to help you.

Me: Then please don't call here again. I know you're a scam.

Him: Ma'am, the alerts your computer is sending...

Me: Really? I'm telling you right now, I do not believe you. The only reason I'm still on the phone with you is so I can tell you I know you're a scam and avoid being on the phone with you in the future.

Him: If you turn on your computer...

Me: It is on. Both of them. But I guess you'd know that, from all the reports you're getting on your end. That's enough. Goodbye.

Him: OK. Ma'am. Ma'am, can I ask you one thing?

Me: What?

Him: Can I fuck you?

Me: Can you ... fuck me?

Him: Yes. Can I. Fuck you.

Me: Have fun scamming other people. Goodbye.

I hung up.

He called back.

Him: Ma'am, this is Dustin from Windows Technical Support.

Me: Really? Come on.

Him: Ma'am, I wanted to ask you, you said I couldn't fuck you?

Me: Seriously?

Him: Can I? Can I do it? Fuck you?

Me: Um. No.

Him: Why not? Why can't I fuck you? I want to fuck you.

Me: That is really enough of that.

I hung up and tried to call the number back, but of course I couldn't. I got out my recorder in case they called back. They haven't. I'll keep it handy for next time.

Just don't trust them.


Jim Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

The easiest and quickest way I've found to get them off the phone (and have them never, ever call back) is to say, "I am recording this phone call for quality control purposes." They're off in less than a second. They don't want their script out in the wild.

Kimberly Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

@Jim: You're right; I should totally do that! Or possibly better yet, record them for real. I have the recorder around all the time anyway for story interviews; it's certainly easy to do.

And boy do they try to stick to their script!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

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Kimberly Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Anonymous! That reminds me. I should have titled this "Scammers gonna scam, and spammers gonna spam."