New York Times homes in on call center scammers

Originally published at: New York Times homes in on call center scammers | Boing Boing


I can’t say I’m as dedicated as Browning (a hero for our times), but whenever I’ve had a chance to intercept the tech-support scammers who target my mother (who’s likely on numerous sucker lists at this point) I do enjoy spending a few minutes leading them down the garden path and wasting their time.

I usually play a befuddled old man, expressing sincere concern over whatever’s supposed to have happened. Every time I sense they’re getting close to the financial ask or to get me to install their malware, I de-rail them. After about three times doing that, they either give up or get impatient and testy. At that point, I usually drop the act, laugh at them, and say they’re not only criminals but incompetent and stupid criminals. The funniest outcomes are where their egos can’t take it and they stay on the line trying to curse me out in broken English.


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The last scum that tried this was calling regarding my military pension. Yes, that’s how low these bastards are, they’d steal from veterans, they’ll steal from anyone. It shows us how well informed they are, and receiving what should be top priority private financial data, in order to scam the most vulnerable. Please don’t ever put me in a room with these f’ing weasels, cuz they’d get a talking to…


For whatever reason I get lots of scam calls at my work landline. The worst part is that I will have 30 messages in voicemail that are all 2-second hang-up calls. I still have to go through all my messages to delete them one by one.

So for a while I tried to f$%k with those guys when they called. I’d speak in Spanish or Russian or choice phrases of other languages I partially know. I’d do the wizened old man bit. I’d ask them “well, since my credit card has qualified, then you must already know my credit card number, right?” or just flat out tell them “I don’t have a credit card.” I kept one of those mini-soundboard toys near the phone, with farts and gunshots and canned laughter to play for them. Nothing works. They keep calling.


I asked the same thing when a fake bank rep scammer tried that one. I asked him to confirm the last four digits and he comes back with “uhhh … the credit card number starts with a 4?” My resulting bark of laughter was so hard he hung up immediately.

The only way to end it is to cancel the landline (harder to do at work, I’m sure). I’ve nearly got my mother convinced to dump it, mostly by telling everyone she knows only to call her mobile number.




[Just glad the headline wasn’t “…hones in on…”]

He never ever raises his voice.

President Theodore Roosevelt: “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”


Browning is the Bob Ross of scambaiting.

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