ON-CALL If it's Friday, it must be time for On-Call, our weekly column that recounts readers experiences of being asked to dodgy jobs at dodgy times for dodgy reasons.
Last week we featured the tale of a tech support chap who took a call from a tech support scammer and managed to keep him on the phone long enough to get him logged in to a Linux box. Many of you liked that story and the On-Call inbox is groaning with your own stories of handling similar scams. So we're going to give a few of them a run.
“Pete” told us that when he gets scam calls he suddenly becomes 94 years old, which gets 60 per cent to hang up. Pretending to be deaf does for another 15 per cent. “I'll have to go I've just crapped myself, I'm 94!” sees another 15 per cent hang up. For the other ten per cent he says he's “just my self, an obnoxious old git!”
“Ben” told us that when scammers call he used to tell the callers he only had Macs, but that didn't deter many. “Now I tell them we don't have a computer or a telephone,” he told us. “Most give up, but one the other day tried to argue that I must have a phone.”
To which Ben replied “No, you are the voice from behind the sofa", a tactic he says has not yet failed to get the scammer off the phone at speed!
“Matt” goes for a combination of logic and emotion when he receives scam calls, by asking “Would you be happy if someone was trying to scam your mother or father?”
He then mines a deep vein of filial piety, asking “why they would work at a job where they had to seal money from people like their mother and father” and “"Would your mother be happy if if she knew you had a job trying to trick other people out of their money?"
Matt tells us this approach reduced one scammer to tears. “I wish I could claim this as my own but my sister-in-law came up with the concept,” he added.
Jarred's strategy is to let scammers into a virtual Windows PC that has several windows open, all showing a site so extremely graphic we're going to spare you the name and URL. Suffice to say it combines nudity, anonymity and live streaming. Scammers hang up not long after seeing the first pixels. Or maybe they just put down the phone they're using to talk to Jarred and enjoy the show …
“Dale” also lures scammers into VMs and says he once managed to keep someone on the line for an hour and twenty minutes while they tried to make their way out of the hypervisor. Now he finds that when scammers call they hang up within seconds. He suspects he's made it onto a “do not talk” blacklist, but not a “do not call” blacklist.
Lastly, “Mike” who tries to make an intimate connection with scammers. Not long after they start to work their way into his PC he asks “So … uh…what are you wearing?”
If you have a story of how to defeat or deflect tech support scammers, or how you've dealt with horrible jobs given to you by horrible people, write to On-Call for your chance to impart some Friday mirth to fellow readers. ®