Level 1: Cadet

Two scam calls in one day - and one scenario for dealing with such calls

This morning I had a call from a so-called Telstra Technician, telling me my internet would be switched off for 2 weeks due to my computer's security being compromised.  I knew this wasn't the case and frequently I will just instantly hang up.  

(The downside to this is that once my husband hung up on a real Telstra Tech when our landline was having problems.  The poor girl had an Indian accent.  She called back most apologetically for having an accent!)

However, back on track.  I allowed this mornings caller to proceed a little way. Sometimes I want to see how far they will go. This person said the problem involved my computer's internet connection and landline phone, obviously alluding to nbn connections.  Unfortunately for him, I don't have nbn, and being in a tiny rural village we've been told it could be a decade before nbn reaches us.  Not to worry, I prefer mobile wireless anyway.  It's portable, I can take it with me when travelling.  Secondly for him, Telstra isn't my ISP, we aren't heavy internet users and there isn't a small enough plan for our needs.  So, two strikes against the caller, at which point I had other things to do, and decided to finish up with the caller.  I love the point where I can turn his words on himself, informing him that the computer is not connected through phone or nbn. Bye, and hang up.


Usually that's all I will hear from them for days or weeks.  Not so today.  Someone called back this afternoon.  I had spare time so decided to play one of my many roles when scammers call.  Sometimes I'm a dotty, little old lady (the later being true, but I'm anything but dotty).  I once had a lady ask for photo id details - drivers' licence, social security details, etc.  "Oh I'm sorry, dear, I don't drive",... social security, "Well, yes dear, but we don't have photos on our pension cards",  date of birth,  "Yes dear, that's the first of April, 19yy" (rounding the year to the nearest multiple of ten).  I particularly like that one as they don't get the April Fool reference.  When they ask for my bank account number it's a case of "Oh dear, I wonder where that is, I'll have to go look for it, will you hold for a minute?"  They eagerly agree, and I leave the phone off the hook and go outside gardening for a few hours.  Yes, I'm evil.

I had some spare time this afternoon, so when I got a second call in the same day I decided to play along - to an extent.  They start with the usual spiel of internet problems, compromised security and ... oh no, they need to cut my phone and broadband off for two weeks to fix the problem ... and to show me the evidence ... am I at my computer?  "No, hang on I'll get it."  I don't. "What do I see on screen?" they ask, I describe the desktop from memory.  They ask me to look at the keyboard, there should be a key marked C T R L  for control, they tell me.  "Yes, I see it".  They ask what key is next to it.  This time I tell them a little key with 4 little windows on it. They confirm that to be the Windows or Microsoft key. On one previous occasion I told them there was no windows key on my keyboard it was an old computer.  How old they asked, what operating system, xp? Windows 2000?  "No dear, I think its an NT or something, oh hold on ... the computer says Commodore 64"  To that one they hung up.

Back to today.  They gave me a series of letters to type in: eventvwr.  I'm near the kitchen so I tap a glass to sound like the keyboard (Yes, I'm very evil). What do I see?  I reply, "Well nothing, just a small screen", which conveniently I can't read - the monitor is not that clear I tell them.  After several more revisions of instructions and my tapping on nearby kitchen utensils, he gives up and gets his supervisor.  The supervisor introduces himself and asks if the situation has been explained, which I confirm and that I understand.  New instructions are issued.  I tell him my computer responds with a whole gammut of unexpected results, from the blue screen of death, to letters I can't read, or empty dialogue boxes with a flashing cursor.  The flashing cursor turned out to be a good response, it kept the 'supervisor' waiting, and waiting, and telling me to be patient and wait, as the screen was apparently ... still loading.  I kept him standing by a good 5 minutes at least.  He thought I must have a very slow computer.  He asked how old it was.  I said I thought it was about a 2014 model we bought overseas.  I give just enough data for them to think what I say is factual and sincere.  Indeed, I use half-truths so that I can keep on track with it appearing to be a genuine response.  Finally he gave me a web address to enter.  Of course I never press any of the keys they tell me.  I was to type in www dot team viewer dot com.  He asked me to read back what I'd typed in.  I had pen and paper at hand to write down instructions so I could, slowly and seemingly unsure of what I was 'typing' - tap tap tap - on the nearest utensil to hand.  I initially read back the letters putting a dot between team and viewer, oh no, I'm told, I must remove the dot from between team and viewer, it's all one word.  Right, now press OK, I'm instructed.  What do you see on screen now.  My reply, "Well nothing". I'm instructed to try it again (several times, in fact).  I eventually decide to get a result on screen and tell the caller that it just says it can't connect.  I'm told my modem must not be turned on, I check, no it's on. A brief interrogation by the caller and I reveal that it must be the satellite, "we get a lot of weather interference and lose signals all the time" I tell him.  The fool asks when it will be fixed, when will someone come to repair the connection.  He will call back then.  My reply is that it can't be fixed, it depends on the weather,  we have to wait for clear weather and no storms.  I tell him it goes out all the time with cyclones and other severe weather, we can't get radio and often lose television signal.  Wait for this -- he asks why I live where I do, why don't I move.  I reply that I like it here, I like my ... farm!  We've established that I'm not in a city, which is true.  He then tries to confirm my address, which is freely available with publicly listed phone numbers, and if he looks it up he will see I live in the remote rural north.  I tell him he has the wrong address and give the name of an acquaintances farm, and one where I know the residents don't own a computer, so he can't scam them!

Sometimes one just needs to give the scammers a taste of what they are giving out.  I do believe that the supervisor really believes that I live on a farm, have satellite broadband, and am waiting for the storms to pass.  Well there is some truth hidden in there but I'm not giving away what is real and what is not. Yes, I'm exceptionally evil when it comes to scammers.  I had fun.  He didn't.

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Level 23: Superhero
Level 23: Superhero

Re: Two scam calls in one day - and one scenario for dealing with such calls

It is fun playing games with them. I havent had one in ages. I went from having a mac to a windows machine a few times when i last had one.
I work for Telstra, but my opinions are my own and not that of Telstras

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