I recently watched a documentary that revealed the extent of the phone scamming industry in India. Make no mistake, it is an industry. Whole office buildings house hundreds of men and women trying to scam unsuspecting people out of their savings.
One of the scammers had agreed to be interviewed on condition his identity was concealed. What he didn’t even try to conceal was his lack of remorse for leaving people destitute and regretful. He was actually quite proud of the way he convinced them to hand over their money. Although this sort of theft by deceit is illegal in India, it does not cover victims in other countries.
The US is the scammers’ main target, though Australia is also a lucrative market for them. There appeared to be a mindset of “The West is wealthy, we are poor. Why shouldn’t we rip them off”.
There were some heartbreaking stories of Australians who had fallen prey to the scams, and it led me to think that there ought to be a way to combat this somehow. So I resolved to scam the scammers.
Instead of hanging up when I heard their spiel (as I usually do) or thanking them for their time and say I’ll call my IT guru, I decided to keep them hanging on as long as I could.
So the next time the voice on the phone said, “Hello, Madam, my name is (insert English Christian name that definitely wasn’t endowed on him by his parents), and I am calling about your NBN. How are you today, Madam?”, I put my plan into action.
ME: I’m fine, thank you. How are you?
SCAMMER: I am fine, too. Madam, I am calling because we have noticed that in the past few days your internet connection has been slowing and we need to fix it. Is your computer on?
ME: No, it’s not.
SCAMMER: Can you please turn it on, Madam?
ME: No, I can’t.
SCAMMER: Why can’t you turn it on? I need you to turn it on.
ME: I can’t turn it on.
SCAMMER: (slightly exasperated) Why not?
ME: It’s in the shop getting repaired. (then, pretending as though I’ve just thought of it) That’s probably why you think it’s slow.
SCAMMER: (Deep breath) Madam, do you have a laptop?
ME: No, I don’t have a laptop.
SCAMMER: Do you have a tablet? Or an iPad? A notebook?
ME: Oh, no, I don’t have any of those.
SCAMMER: What about a mobile phone?
ME: Oh, yes, I have a mobile phone.
SCAMMER: And do you have WiFi? Can you access the internet?
ME: Oh, no, I don’t do that on my phone. I don’t believe in doing that.
SCAMMER: What kind of phone is it, Madam? An android or a (unintelligible)?
ME: I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand what you said.
SCAMMER: Is it an android or a (unintelligible)?
ME: I’m sorry, I still couldn’t understand what you said. Could you please spell it for me?
SCAMMER: (definitely exasperated) What sort of phone is it?
ME: I don’t know. I just bought it from Officeworks. A nice young man sold it to me.
SCAMMER: Does it have an apple on the reverse?
ME: An apple? I’ll have a look. No, there doesn’t appear to be an apple on it or any other kind of fruit. I’m sure that nice young man wouldn’t have sold me anything so silly.
SCAMMER: (sighing) I’m sorry to bother you, Madam. Goodbye.
So it might have only taken a few minutes to keep him on the line, but that was time he wasn’t spending ripping off elderly people or parents anxious for their children’s wellbeing and unaware of the “Mum, please send me some money” text scam.
So, Starts at 60 members, unite with me in turning the tables on these unscrupulous scammers and take up their time with useless conversation. Don’t think you can come up with a convincing spiel? Just let me know – I’ll write you one.