Telemarket scammer talks to a bot for over 10 minutes

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/14/telemarket-scammer-talks-to-a.html

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honestly if the bot was nice and i was getting paid either way … i’d rather bot than deal with hangups and angry people.

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Nonetheless, Jolly Roger is doing the Lord’s work.

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I need to set my mom up with a system like this. Telemarketers, all of which are scammers to some degree, call her constantly and she’s always far too polite. (Sometimes they’re quite horrible to her, unfortunately, despite her being nice.) She got a call the other night that finally caused her to lose it, though.

First, they called for the wrong person. Then they claimed to be calling “on behalf of PG&E” - which is a common variant of the start of a pitch that a scammy call center working to drum up business for scammy solar installers use. [She once went along with one of those after they promised to send out an engineer to evaluate her home for energy-saving tips and solar feasibility. She agreed after they promised not to send a salesman. She invited me to be there when he came, and guess who showed up? A salesman. Who did a high-pressure sales pitch for a solar system that cost five or six times more than anyone else’s. It was actually rather sad.] So this telemarketer, who didn’t even know who they were calling, who clearly was working to drum up business for a solar installer, then tells my mother that they’re “concerned” about how much tier-2 electricity she’s using (she actually uses very, very little electricity) and my mother was feeling pretty annoyed, as much by the insult to her intelligence as the obviousness of the scam. My mother told the caller that this was bullshit and she wasn’t going to listen to any more of the scam and hung up. Which was actually just factually accurate and pretty polite, objectively speaking, but normally she’d say something like, “I’m not interested, but thank you for calling!” even to lying telemarketers.

I think she’s finally ready for a system like this that actively, vindictively wastes telemarketers’ time.

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Is this really a bot? Or is it just a recording.

Most likely a bot coded to run under Asterisk, either in its native dialplan language, or perhaps in Lua. It would likely randomly use various recordings stored on-disk.

If it isn’t Asterisk, it’s undoubtedly some other type of VoIP switch with similar capabilities.

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I was hoping it was some ELIZA like system.

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Hmmm, that might be a project to try - a voice-input implementation of ELIZA. Voice input has been done with Zork, by the way.

On the other hand, if you’re going to mess with telemarketers, you need one convincing text-to-speech engine.

I keep a credit card number generator that is meant to test cc validators on my phone for just these types of calls. I keep giving them cc number after cc number and agree to everything they ask. The numbers are false but pass software validation. I’m hoping they waste a lot of time and burn a few bridges as a result. I also tell them to use my personal number in the future as the one they called is being disconnected after “the move” and give them the local FBI field office number.

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Next step: Telemarketer bots.

This bot should have a talk with Lenny.

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Depending on my mood, somethimes I’ll do this myself. I can be kinda fun.

I’ve read hundreds of reports about these utility related scams at consumer boards like http://whycall.me since years ago. I think installing this Jolly Roger will be a good option for your mom, Shuck. These scammers are really persistent. It’s seems like there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

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I regularly get scammers who tell me that they’re from Microsoft and that my computer is sending out viruses.
As I haven’t used any computer with MS since the early 90’s, and my home computer is a Mac Mini and an iPad, I always tell these people they’re lying, and when they insist they aren’t, I ask them how I know they’re lying, then I tell them what computer I use and tell them bluntly to fuck off and hang up.
I did once get a caller phone me three times after I said I was busy and hung up, who maintained he was from my landline company, BT.
As I had some time to spare, I thought I’d string him along, and follow his instructions. First he asked me to hit the Windows key on my keyboard, and was totally thrown when I said I didn’t have one. You could almost hear the grinding of his mental gears when I said after a bit I had a Mac!
Then he asked me to bring up a browser window and type an address into the search area, which I did. Then I said, ‘oh, that’s odd, I’ve got a little yellow triangle with an exclamation mark, and it tells me this web address is highly suspicious, at which point the line went dead. :smiling_imp:

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I think it’s all randomized snippets, but this would make a terrific machine learning project with the longest possible call as the goal.

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