How To String Along Annoying Scam Callers

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How To String Along Annoying Scam Callers

I got one of the sadly frequent scam calls the other day from “Windows Consumer care”, telling me about a “serious problem” with my computer. Rather than angrily hang up, I kept the call going as long as possible. Here’s why.

Picture by dickuhne

Scam security calls are no new thing, but they’re a solid annoyance. I’m signed up for the Do Not Call register, so these outfits are breaking more than one Australian law, but I’m sure that’s of little concern to an off-shore scammer in any case.

Lifehacker has covered the Microsoft scam caller phenomenon at some length; it’s been noted that it’s a rapidly rising star in the scam world, and over and over again it’s been advised that the best thing to do with scam callers is to hang up on them.

So why did I ignore that sage advice and take the call? I was sitting at my iMac working on some rather dull review test results that needed a little shifting around when my home phone rang. My wife answered it, but that day she had a rather bad cold that left her with little voice, so she quickly handed it over to me.

“Hello, I’m calling from Windows Consumer Care. We’ve detected a serious problem with your PC.”

Inwardly, I sighed. Not another one of these, I thought. And then I realised that I had about half an hour’s work ahead of me to do, and a speakerphone. Scams like these work because they hit unwitting targets who go along with the script, and ideally because, like any call centre, they hit as many targets as possible. With that in mind, I figured I’d waste as much time as possible going through the laughable script. The longer they spent on me — where I was at no risk whatsoever — the less time they’d have to target the genuinely vulnerable.

So I played along. Why yes, I did have a Windows computer (for those playing along at home, it’s true, I do — for testing. Most of my writing is done on a Mac), and it was acting a little slowly. As was I. Every single command given to me I got repeated at least three times; once because I “couldn’t hear her”, once because I’d accidentally typed the wrong thing, and then once more because they Run window “kept closing” for some reason.

This, the scammer assured me, was indicative of my problem, but for whatever reason, she had to stick to her script. I also hung up three times over the course of the call — once so I could have a proper laughing fit — and was amazed when they called back.

Eventually, after I’d got her to explain to me that the Windows key on my keyboard was the one on the keyboard and not the one on the screen, we progressed. For anyone that’s interested, the approach du jour appears to be one of bringing up the Windows event viewer and then informing the PC’s owner that even the smallest problem — like, say, having lots of perfectly fine events in the event viewer — is absolutely catastrophic.

It’s not too hard when you’re bored (and have the time to spend) to act dumb; the hard part is not cracking up while maintaining the facade. Doubly so if there’s someone else in the room; at one point, while I was tweeting my progress along the way, I almost got myself in trouble with the scammer. She accused me of typing while I was meant to be taking her commands seriously, but I waved away those concerns:

“Oh, no, that’s my wife, on her electric typewriter. She’s a mystery novelist. Say, you don’t think her typewriter could get this problem, could it?”

I do wish I’d had a camera at that point; the tears of silent laughter streaming down my wife’s face as she bit her knuckles to avoid chuckling made the entire ludicrous exercise worthwhile. For whatever it’s worth, apparently you can’t get malware on an electric typewriter. Who knew that?

I then moved on with my concern, asking specifically if the mystery “problem” with my computer could cause it to catch fire, as I was “sure” that I’d heard “some kind of fan” kicking in from time to time.

“Oh yes, this problem is very serious.”
“Oh, really. Fire, you say? Should I unplug it?”
“Yes.”

So I did. Well, OK, I didn’t, because this was just a virtual PC, but that’s what I strung the scammer along with. Which created fresh problems for my “stupid” self, because suddenly the screen had gone blank, what with the power having been turned off. I eventually powered the machine up again, noting that the floppy drives were whirring a lot as they did so. Again, the same paranoia-inducing script was used; the “Consumer Care” centre was aware of my problems. How reassuring!

At this point I was at the twenty minute mark, and I’d very nearly finished the actual work I was doing, so I decided to switch tracks, and have my mythical PC reboot into OS X. Suddenly, all I could see was an Apple symbol with the word “Finder” next to it. Could this perhaps be my problem, I asked?

Astonishingly, that brought about a change in the script; rather than trying to get me to launch event viewer (a little tough on a Mac, to be fair), the caller instead tried to get me to go to a given web site. I’m not going to repeat the URL here, because I have utterly zero doubt that it was a malware ridden piece of hysteria-inducing rubbish; instead I kept with the Apple theme and went to Apple.com.

This created a fresh problem. Instead of seeing whatever warning that site was undoubtedly set up to deliver (along with a Trojan payload), all I could see was the words “Introducing MacBook Pro with Retina Display” and a tiny photo of a bald man beneath it. Scammers apparently can’t recognise Jonathan Ive, you see.

It was at this point that the scam call took an unexpected turn, as the scam caller angrily accused me of wasting her time. It took her long enough, and eventually the call wrapped up. Total talk time was 27 and a half minutes, and I got all my other work done in the meantime, while enjoying the experience greatly.

So why do it, aside from for the chuckles? Well, if you do genuinely have the time — and I’d certainly suggest multi-tasking your scam-baiting — you’re actively helping out those that the scam is looking to target. The more time they waste on you, the less time they’re hitting the genuinely gullible. At the same time, it’s still a good idea to inform all your friends and relatives about these types of scams to ensure they don’t fall foul of them; with a bit of luck the financial model that underpins them might just fall over.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Sometimes evil is justified, and other times, knowing evil means knowing how to beat it. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.


This story has been updated since its original publication.

Comments

    • Exactly. It isn’t about fish for dinner, it’s the experience of fishing. I once kept “Microsoft” on the line for half an hour. A good day.

    • I’m kind of partial to forwarding their call to Domino’s, or any friend silly enough to have his direct work line in his email signature.

    • I too have strung them along for a while but I must say that I’m not sure that the call centre people know themselves that it’s a scam. They are likely uneducated themselves and they are simply acting out a script they have been given. Maybe I’m being naive myself but their indignant behavior at our wasting their time or abusing them perhaps backs this up.

    • Yep, I work from home and sometimes do this when I’m bored just for kicks. My best one yet was a couple of weeks ago: strung the poor bastard along for 15 minutes or so, and at one point I couldn’t hold back my laughter. He asked me in annoyance why I was laughing and not concentrating on his instructions, so I relied that I was just checking Facebook and could he give me a second while I replied to a hilarious post someone had made. He obligingly waited 5 minutes in silence while I gave him a rundown on all the updates on my newsfeed. Eventually I told him I had to go, and he abused me for wasting his time. I replied, hang on, you called me to scam me, didn’t you? It’s more like you’re wasting MY time. He called me a stupid bitch and hung up.

  • My record for these guys is around an hour and a half. It was about that time that i got sick of talking to the people (I had been transferred to the “manager” by then) and flat out accused them of being a scammer, to which the “manager” took quite a bit of offense

  • haha my housemate and i did exactly this the last time they called our place, which is also on the useless DNC list too, i pretended to be doing as told and like you threw in the odd moron comment, like believing the event viewer stuff was super bad, eventually it got to the stage where i could no longer safely continue on, the website or more specifically the program they wanted me to download, so i started acting real dumb saying i couldn’t find things or things were crashing etc, she got real mad and yelled at me and then got her manager!, he told me to stop wasting time and to continue on, obviously i couldn’t so i asked what the program was and what else he was going to do for me and here where we finally lost it and cracked up uncontrollably, amongst the list of things he was going to get us to run was a “defraggLER” i got him to repeat the “defrawhat” he again said defraggler and laughs were on going…he hung up lol

    also to all out there, never hang up on them, simply sit the phone down and let them sit there wondering, even better throw in a “can you wait a minute” (dont wait for an answer), like alex said these guys are trying to hit a quota, and some will sit there waiting for your return for over 10minutes in hopes of nabbing you, 10 minutes sitting there waiting for you is 10 they arent scamming some poor old lady

  • With telemarketers I tend to just hang up on them as their stuck in an awful job and don’t need any further abuse from me. But with the people doing these scams they are actively trying to harm me, so like you, I’m happy to waste as much of their time as I can.

    I’ll usually play along until I get some sort of login code or similar that I can use to report them to the service (assuming the service cares at all), and then just start saying, “I like cheese” whenever they ask me something.

    Last time I did them I ended up with the manager on the line for a bit, then back to the original scammer who indignantly admonished me for not taking this seriously then hung up on me. I do appreciate their resolve in playing the role through to the bitter end. Certainly adds to the fun.

  • I managed 38 minutes doing a similar thing, asking whether it’d cause problems to my floppy disk I was trying to save my powerpoint to, and telling them the computer just crashed and I was waiting for it to restart. In the end the guy said I was wasting his time, to which I replied ‘you called me d**head’

    I considered setting up an old PC or a VM and installing the software that they wanted me to but I haven’t had a call from them in over 3 months :(, they’d have gotten a bit of a shock when I set the background to something notifying them that we indeed knew they were scammers and blah blah we know where you live…

    The other thing to do is ask them where they are based, I tried it and it went like this:

    Me: “Where are you based?”
    Them: “Australia”
    Me: “Bullshit, where are you really?”
    Them: “Melbourne, we are in Melbourne, Australia”
    Me: “No you are not, you sound like you are in India”
    Them: “I am part of the technical support division at Microsoft in Melbourne”
    Me: “No mate, you aren’t….” I can’t remember what he said after that.

  • I’ve only managed about 10 minutes personally.. was fun.. but what I was really fishing for was a return phone number so I could get the number blocked by the AFP. Of course it would only be a Skype phone number that they would just replace with another stolen credit card number.. anything to make their life difficult.

    • I’ve actually got one of their numbers, not a fake Australian FNN, but a true Indian number. It displayed on my Call Number Display phone. Usually, “Overseas” is displayed. A bit of research shows that it is in the format of an Indian mobile number. I don’t know what to do with it. Best thing is, that caller used some pretty offensive insults during the call. I’ve written them down along with date and time. Anyone want the number?

      • Here it is: 9264729558
        As it has been many years, I’m not sure it’s still active.
        Last heard from him 31 July 2012. Interesting call where he asked me if I thought this was a scam call? Well of course I agreed. This triggered a spray of language like he was trying to get a reaction out of me. I laughed in disbelief until he hung up.

  • Tip for phone scammers at work asking to speak with the boss, say “sure” you’ll put them through. Place them on hold. They hang up after a few minutes which in which they could have called 5-10 other people and been hung up on straight away.

    • Good start, but it’s much better if you have at least two staff.
      1. Tell them that they will need to speak to department or staff member x, tell them that you are transferring their call now.
      2. Transfer the call to the other staff member (who is in on the joke). Make sure they leave the call on hold for 5-10 min before picking up.
      3. At this point rinse and repeat… “Sorry, you need John in Accounts for that, I’ll transfer you now”
      If you can do a few different voices and keep yourself from laughing this can be dragged out for some time. Between two of us we bounced one guy around for nearly 40 min before he got sick of it and hung up.
      Once again, if you can waste their time, you are saving a few poor Joe’s who don’t know better.

  • These folks are fun. I’ve strung one along for about 30 minutes once, while I was playing GTA on the Playstation. “Yes, I can click on what you want. OMG – all these errors! Yes, I’ll go to your website. Yes, I’m there now, but it has all pictures of animals on it. Yes, I’m sure I typed it in correctly”….. and so on…

  • Classic!

    I had one of those calls last year (unplugged the home phone permanently since then). Played along for a bit, then started asking them some questions about my system and came to:
    “Which version of windows is on my computer?
    – I can see here that you are running XP sir
    – Nope
    – Vista?
    – Nope
    – 7?
    – Nope
    – Mac?
    – Yup no windows here buddy..
    – Sorry for wasting your time.
    – Nice chat mate.”

  • I had some fun with one of these people too recently! I had just parked my car at the shopping centre and was nowhere near my home, let alone my computer!! I got a good 10 minutes out of them before the exasperated woman at the end shouted “Oh you just don’t understand” and hung up on me! I was actually giggling to myself as I went into the shops – it was so much fun!

  • It’s allright. Nicola Roxon’s data retention laws will prevent every known scam ….. won’t it? Hmmm.

    What would be great is if we could get some recordings. As Barb said above – make it a sport and LH could award prizes for the longest / funniest. On that note – LH please do us a guide to recording phone calls.

  • Pretty much every single one of my friends has had a call from the ‘Windows Consumer Care’ team, and they just get angry and hang up on them…

    I actually WANT to talk to these people and have some fun with them… but yet I have never had a call from them… not fair!

    Does anyone have their number? Maybe I can call them?

    • I’m not the only one!

      Actually, they called me once and told me my PC was infected, so I tried my best to act concerned, but she hung up about 15 seconds into the call. Either my acting wasn’t the best, or something else was going on. But I was disappointed.

  • Had a very similar experience a few years back with a known (ie Listed) Ethiopian group claiming to be from England. Strung them along to the point were they hung up, only to call back again 30 minutes later with a TV set blurting out an episode of “Neighbors” in the background.

  • one told me that somethign was wrong with my firewall, then asked me if i knew what a firewall was.

    i said yes, and this person obivously hadn’t come up to many people who knew what one was and what it does.

    so then he goes and says “it’s not a problem with your firewall” so i reply “then what is the problem?” then he just goes back “well your firewall….” too which i just said “look, i know computers, i know what you are trying to do, please piss off” and hung up

  • I have done this before also, got to the point where it would have been dangerous to continue and then said Hold on…. how do you know that my computer has issues if I dont have an internet connection? They told me I was an idiot and hung up

  • I have an old family friend and she got scammed by those d**heads. They did install some program on her computer and asked for her credit card. Luckily she is old and doesn’t have any credit card and that bast***d told her to go to Australia post and get a prepaid credit card. Another lucky moment was the it was raining and she said she will go next day and get it.

    I got to know about this the same day and the lady was saved.

    • I had a similar story with my partner’s grandmother. Luckily she realized something was up before she gave them too many details but they were calling her back 5-6 times a day trying to finish the job.
      I’m also on the DNC, i still get the call every month or so but when they first started i was getting it a couple of times a day. At one point I would guess it was well over a hundred calls in a month.

  • We somewhat regularly get calls from them, and they are pretty annoying. One time I answered the phone and it was one of these morons on the line, I decided to try to put a stop to it. After the guy said he was from the computer care centre or whatever it was, he went on to say that they had detected problems with my computer and blah blah. I humoured him for a little while, saying stuff like “Reeeeally?” and “You don’t say!” as he was talking, trying to make it sound obvious that I knew what he was trying to do, but he didn’t seem to catch on.

    Eventually I interrupted him and said “Look, do you realise I’m a computer technician?”
    There was then an awkward pause from his end, then he stammered out “You’re…you’re a computer technician? I’m…I’m from the computer care…uhhh…”
    “Don”t call again”.
    *beep beep beep beep*

    I thought surely they must have blacklisted my number or something after that, but nope, a few weeks later, we get another call -_- My wife is also fairly computer savvy so she’d never fall for it either, and often makes up stories like “Sorry, I run Linux”, or “Sorry, I don’t have a computer”, but they continue to call. They are persistent, I’ll give them that, but it’s fricken annoying.

    • My wife just got a call today. She handed the phone to our 2 year old. The caller gave up and hung up after about 2 minutes 😛

  • The only time I got one of these calls, I asked the caller how they knew there was a problem. I pushed the point – “What exactly is the problem? How do you know there is a problem? Have you been spying on me? Do you know that spying on a person’s computer is illegal, etc”. At this point, the caller hung up on me. Never had one since. Hopefully they blacklisted my number.

  • Lol.. I did this as well.. I think I got to about 40 minutes before I started asking about his family and all this other stuff.. where they were and stuff.. after a while i got the guy to admit they’re not actually from microsoft at all! my favourite part was when he asked me to go to http://www.logmein.com to download a software to “fix the errors” lol.. YEAAAHH RIGHT!

  • I personally enjoy this kind of “sport” my favourite thing to add is to pretend its a business number and to have to find something (credit card, out of date “oh its expired let me find a new one”) and to use rickroll as my “hold music” I actually managed to keep someone listening to repeats of never gonna give you up for over 40 mins before the call ended.

  • Someone should start an online forum with recordings of scam bait calls.

    Apart from the amusement factor, it would be good to start a voice database of known scammers as I’m sure the day will come when an app could identify a caller’s voice against such a list.

    It wasn’t that long ago that computers identifying faces from photos seemed like science fiction and the scammers might then be as reluctant to put their voice to a scam call as they’d be to put their photo up on a scam website.

  • Great article LH. Is it possible to have one on how to turn an old PC into a virus host for cold calling scammers wanting remote access?

    • +1

      Or even better work out a way that it would allow you to remote into their PC and start messing around with it.

  • Is there a decent fact sheet/warning with simple clear explanations about these scammers that i could print and give to my less-computer-savvy grandparents? Id write one myself but if theres already a good obe outthere…

  • You people who never get these scam calls, I’d like to know your secret. I have a work-mandated skype account with my name as my skype id. Within a week, the scammers had me in their sights and I get a call from them at least once a week. Unfortunately, it’s after I’ve gone home for the night, so I’m never there to answer it and string them along.

  • Funniest exp was a mate of mine who got the call:

    Mate: “Hang on, give me 5 minutes I just have to finish something”

    (Starts a porno on the background)

    hahahaha

    A bit crude but the guy actually held on for a good few minutes

  • I had one call earlier this year.
    They said my computer was running slow because it had a virus on it.
    I yelled “HOLY CRAP! THANKS FOR TELLING ME! I’M GOING TO PACK IT UP IN A BOX AND TAKE IT BACK TO THE SHOP RIGHT NOW AND GET A REFUND!!” and hung up.

  • I’ve yet to try this but am tempted to answer the phone with “the number you have dialed has been disconnected due to abusive calls, your number has been recorded and will be sent to the authorities”, or something like that

  • My teenage kids answered the phone one arvo and did the “hang on, I’m only fourteen, I’ll just get my Dad for you” after about 10 minutes. I made him repeat the whole thing again with the redneck say that again, I can’t understand your accent line thrown in liberally . When it started to get boring, I spontaneously offered to intermediately hand over my Platinum Gold EXTRA high limit Diners Card details with a $100 tip for his helpfulness if he could correctly identify my IP address right now. He had said repeatedly he could “see everything on my computer” so that shouldn’t have been too hard. He got very frustrated before he eventually hung up accusing me of toying with him and that we were a bad house and were never really going to pay him. I was laughing so hard my kids thought I’d lost the plot but I kept telling him the offer was genuine and he just had to produce the numbers. Scumbags!

  • Srsly… !!! I’m no big-wig or important hot-shot, but my time is FAR to valuable to me to dick around entertaining myself with this malarkey.

    That and the fact I’ve never received a SINGLE one of these calls ever in the past 7+ years since getting rid of a land-line phone. Problem Solved.

  • I has one that I strung along for awhile until I got bored, then I randomly screamed into the phone as loud as I could and then said “sorry” and acted like nothing had happened. As soon as she started talking again I did it again, she swore at me and hung up.

    Just wish I has a whistle or something to blow their eardrums out.

  • Just a note about the Do Not Call register: Charities, and anyone calling on their behalf, are exempt. They are people doing a job, and yes they do generally get paid, but don’t lose it at them. Just hang up politely if you can’t help with a donation.

    • Absolutely; while I don’t personally do charity donations over the phone for any charity, I’m always polite and to the point with charity callers.

      But there’s no way these clowns were charity callers.

  • I think my best is about 45 minutes. For the first 20, I just kept acting as if I was horrible on computers and didn’t know what I was doing. He then hung up to change to a better line and that was about 5 minutes later and kept doing the same up until the 40 minute mark. I was acting as the biggest bogan just swearing all the time. Then for the next 5 minutes I told him I loved him and if he loved me and we should get married; the told me he had a girlfriend so I started shit talking her and he got pissed, called me a fucking motherfucker and hung up 🙂

  • I live in a shared house with a few other people, and we’re all pretty tech savvy. We all look forward to these phone calls. One of us loves to take the angry route, another takes the legal route, while I follow the messing with them route.

    My personal favourite was getting one, spending 10 or so minutes with them and then asking “…how did you call me, when I don’t have a phone? …please get out of my head…”

  • My experience went like this:

    Indian: “Hello Sir, I’m from Windows how are you?”

    Me: “Don’t you mean Microsoft?”

    Indian: “Oh… -Call ends-“

  • for some reason when I say I’m from the police they hang up, how rude.
    they also hang up when I ask them how much they’ll charge to clean my windows. 🙁

  • Whenever I get a call from these guys on my landline, I tell them I need to go check my phone bill or whatever to compare with their offer and that I will be right back, then leave phone in spare room and carry on with my day. One guy kept calling ME back and shouting at me for wasting his time!

  • Used to work for a large, legitimate antivirus vendor, and we’d get frequent calls from our customers insisting that they were infected.
    Unfortunately, we got a few VERY unfortunate ones where the scammers got connected to their machines (using remote access software) and spent a few hours ‘wiggling the mouse around’ eventually to get a bill for a couple of hundred dollars on the credit card number they supplied.
    I believe they’ll only connect to your machine if you give them credit card details.
    One came to us a few weeks later saying that we’d called them (They used our company name) and that the antivirus that we’d installed wasn’t working.
    Turns out that they’d installed a free version of the software in some cases, and in others, installed a dodgy license code.
    All we could do was to explain the situation, how the scam works and most often, transfer them to sales to arrange for a legitimate license and offer assistance removing any extra remote access software and rootkits installed.
    You’d be surprised how many people (mostly elderly) got hit by this and would on the verge of tears when being told that they’d been scammed out of around $50-$400.

    I got one caller, and had sacrifical machine at home ready and waiting for them (real machine) Got about 15 mins in and the caller terminated the call after swearing at me. Same deal, was on DNC register.

    All in all, I strongly encourage that you give em hell. Hold NO remorse back.

    Whilst working there, one situation I encountered was as follows:
    I’ve had a lady who supposedly ‘served in the war’ break down in tears when told of the scam. She called her daughter scared while the guy promised to call back and maxxed out the daughters credit card credit card for the ‘service’ because her PC was her only way to see photos of her family. (Grand-daughter) This lady didn’t want to jeopardise her chances to keep seeing photos via email.

    I advised the lady to tell her daughter to contact the credit card company to seek a refund, and sought about making sure her machine was safe.

  • In the midst of stringing them along, acting dumb and what not- you should throw in some absurd comments or questions that are completely unrelated, such as “Do you like cats?” or “What sort of cheese do you prefer, gouda or ricotta?”, ask them rhetorical questions (my favourite: if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear the fall, does it make a noise?) or start rambling about your ‘life story’…, maybe stick on some nyan cat or rick roll them! always amusing to imagine them with puzzled faces on the other end of the line.

  • I’ve chimed in on other articles around this topic before.
    My personal best comes in at a round 30 minutes (come ON Alex, time to step up your game), and I ended it with, “Oh no wonder I couldn’t find the window key – this is my microwave!”

    The “Windows Care Service Representative” was suddenly much more fluent in English than he had been previously, although his vocabulary seemed to be restricted to only the most vulgar words and phrases.

  • actually jealous about not getting these sorts of calls (scams, telemarketers, etc)

    i found that since i changed to my VOIP number, i only get calls from people i know. i don’t use the landline number which is the one listed in the whitepages

  • My record is around 45 minutes. Plenty of time waiting for my router to restart, and restarting my computer before I could even access the internet. Well, plenty of time to make a cup of coffee and eat some bikkies – eating loudly into the telephone btw. We finally got to the part where he asked me to download a program to give him remote access (that’s not how he described it though) and I straight up told him I wouldn’t do that because it was a security risk. His tone changed then, not to anger but to disappointment: “You’ve been wasting my time haven’t you?”. Yes I had, but he hung up before I got to answer him.

    No remorse for these scamming scumbags.

  • I have enjoyed reading everyone’s responses with my 9 year old daughter, who I often hand the callers over to for a chat. A previous favourite was “I have two computers … Which computer is the problem?” but current standard operating procedure is to play along for long enough to get the fart sound board (google it’s a joyous use of the Internet) up then after a quick “excuse me for a moment”, let a few rip. despite all this, they keep calling! It finally occurred to me that these poor people may not even know they are working for scammers. As far as they know, they are ringing someone with a genuine problem and trying to help them install SW to fix it. That’s what their employer tells them!

  • A good friend of mine was luck enough to have one of these calls before (I’ve only ever get marketers) and after stringing them along for 15 minutes she discovered that they were having their own computer problems. Tables have now been turned. She explains that the only way to fix the computer is to delete System 32. The scammer fell for it and my friend got told off by her mother for being mean to the scammer.

  • When I have the time I can usually get to the half hour mark quite easily, sometimes though only five to ten minutes or so before they hang up , the problem being after tapping at the keyboard for a while and going through some of the above mentioned tactics , if female I start to give the come-on and talk about what their going to do after work and how good it would be to do them …..If male sometimes the same but usually they get strung along worse, I just browse the internet and tell them funny stuff I’m looking at then pretend to get back on track when they get frustrated, or, at the half hour mark ask “Should my computer be on for this to work ?” And “this isn’t my computer, it doesn’t get on the web ”
    At which point the swearing starts ….. gotta make you happy

  • My parents used to get these calls all the time. Fortunately they were wise enough that nothing bad happened. They would just tell them their son had a degree in computer science, hang up and then call me about it. After the 5th one they tired of all the calls and asked them to stop trying. Eventually my dad lost his temper at the caller and hung up on him. A few minutes later he called back and said something about making life difficult and hung up.
    At first nothing happened. Then for the next few weeks we started getting calls from random people wanting to pay late bills they’d been warned about in an answering machine message. Explaining that it wasn’t a real bill and all became a bit of a drag after the 20th call in a weekend. So my parents changed to an unlisted number. They haven’t had a problem since.

    Given the speed with which they left the messages I wonder if they keep a log of when they get an answering machine.

    A kid at my last workplace swallowed the routine hook line and sinker. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to him that there was something wrong until after they gained control of his PC.

    Has anyone ever received calls that start with “Hello? Is this the owner of the business”? When questioned on what business they’re trying to call they don’t seem to know? I’ve had a few of those lately.

  • Why not just say you are part of some UN anti-scam department based in Mumbai. Thanks for your call we have been tracking your location while you talk to me. Stay where you are in your seat to avoid being accidentally shot as our officers enter your building.

    It might not work, but it might for a moment get them scared.

  • Yeah I play the “stupid” guy with all unwanted calls., usually telemarketers from telcos.
    Them: Hi sir, just called to tell you that you’ve won $10000 !
    Me: OMG ! ARE YOU SERIOUS? YEESSS WHOO HOO. put the phone down, and go tell the good news to my family and talking excitedly in the background.
    Them: Hello ? Hello?
    Me: OMG, you are the best ! Thanks so much ! Ok Bye. *Hang up.*

  • I once kept someone on the phone for almost an hour. They were trying to sell me something or sign me up for some sort of service, so I asked them to please read me the terms and conditions, since I “didn’t have access to any computers” – and legally, they’re obligated to do it! I put the phone down, coming back to it occasionally to hear the woman going “…and section 16 part b states that (blah blah)…” and I would occasionally mumble agreeably, or add an “ah, ok” in there too. It was hilarious, and I don’t think she even noticed I wasn’t there. When she got towards the end, I started listening and when she finished I told her that all sounded very nice but I just wasn’t interested in purchasing her products or services at that time and hung up. Win for me 😀

  • My go to when there is a scam caller is to pass the phone onto my 3 year old daughter who loves to chat. She will make me laugh and hearing the response of the caller is priceless.
    “Ma’am… Ma’am… if… Ma’am I just…”
    They can’t get a word in and they hang up.
    “Who was that, Daddy?”
    “Ummm… Betty. Lets say it was Betty.”
    “I love Betty, she’s my best friend” (What she says after talking to anyone on the phone.

  • I feel sorry for the scam callers – particularly those employed in third world countries – because they don’t have much of a choice in what they do to earn a living.
    Just like us, they would prefer a job with a decent wage that enables them to do something that makes the world a better place – but instead, their unfortunate circumstances have forced them to waste their time, skills, & energy in a crappy job that does more harm than good.
    Their boss is probably like the call centre version of a pimp – “He didn’t follow the script? That’s your fault, ho’! I’ll teach you to ruin my KPI’s!”

  • My first experience of stringing them along resulted in me being called “the biggest mistake in the universe”. I must have pushed a few buttons that time.
    The last time I got called I was walking through the steps on my “mac” and was having the most difficulty trying to get to the websites I was being directed to (all of which were for downloading remote login software). Things like the software not being able to connect (because I’d disconnected from the network) the codes for log me in not working, the accept button not showing up when he’d initiated the connection and a host of other issues that thwarted him.
    It was the last website coming as “this website could not be displayed” that he twigged that I was messing with him and he started getting quite irate.

    This needs to become a new sport. Anyone for starting a website for the leader boards?

  • Last one of these I got, when they got me to the event viewer I just started counting the events for him. Kept losing count and starting again.

    Of course I was just counting randomly while browsing. Got up to 150-odd once before I lost count and started again.

  • These are all pretty funny, but in all seriousness someone should get ACA and Today Tonight to do a story on these scammers, that way it will reach – and hopefully inform – the people most likely to fall victim to these frauds. ie. the elderly and the less technically minded.

  • Had 2 calls last night…first one said usual Microsoft consumer center ..blah blah..I said in an old man voice sorry I dont have a computer….She said agin . and I replied sorry Maam I dont have comfuter…she hung up..only 10 minutes later phone call my mrs answer and she goes along telling the lady she is doing things but all wrong…lady getting very irate…Mrs has her on speaker phone lady tells her ALT r my mrs says doesnt work eventually my mrs says ok something happened the lady says what do you see…My Mrs says a big cock…lady says excuse what do you see..mrs says a big FN cock..lady says your the cock and hung up..I was in hysterics

  • I just tell them I have to connect to my IT speicalist,at the police station and the FBI are tracking the call back . then I press a number on the phone as I am talking if they havent hung up before now ! as for the Africans I tell them I am watching them from across the road at the other cafe & that a sworm of investegators have him surrounded it works!!!!!!!

  • I like the approach; I think we also should all hit reply when receiving scam emails and let them know we are definitely interested in the inheritance/money transfer/etc. will stop them from targeting vulnerable people.

  • Haha I always answer these calls with my finest Indian accent… It throws them off a little at first. Then when they tell me about my computer having bad files I ask them if it’s got a “vi-roooooos” still in my accent. I act all concerned and ask him if my computer has caught the aids… Or an std, oh my goodness, I told it not to sleep around before it was married, now I will have to punish the computer for getting these vi- roooooses and it will have to go into the doctor for treatment. Then I ask him if it’s got as many vi-roooooses and infections as his dirty mother who sells her body by the Ganges river in Calcutta. It pretty much ends here but it’s a lot of fun and they seem to get really pissed when you insult their mother and their home land. Haha! :-). I wish they would call more often so I can practice more accents.

  • Couple of options I’ve used recently:
    – Them: Your computer is sending signals. Me: oh really my computer is at the repair shop. Them: signals are coming from your area, does your neighbour have a computer?
    – Them: I’m from the computer department of Microsoft. Me: could you provide me with your Microsoft License Number please? Them: blah blah blah. Me: oh wow, I work for Microsoft personnel and I just did a license check and it turns out yours is expired! did you know that? Unfortunately I will have to report that. What is your supervisors name / number? Them … Beep beep beep.

  • Had 3 of these calls over the last 2 months. The longest was when I strung the guy along for 12 minutes, then was transferred to a “supervisor.” After another 13 minutes, I finally got tired and said “Oh No!” He asked what was the matter. I said “My screen is flashing! – I’m getting an error message” He asked what the message says. I told him it says “Warning – Bull Sh_t Detected – the person you are talking to is full of Bull Sh_t. Do not listen to him!” I broke up when he said “Yeah and under that it says “You are a son of a M—er Fu–r!” (The Indian accent was what made it hilarious)

  • “Microsoft computer scammers” Tell them you have 4 computers all running different windows. To find out which one, ask them for the IP Address. With so many IP’s and separate computers, it’s impossible to hit the correct one first go. If they tell you they do not need that, tell them that it is the only way to see which computer is doing it. When they say it again laugh and hang up.
    I also told them that they had rang Microsoft support line and they were talking to a Microsoft Technician, and I will need their credit card details, full name and address before we continue as this is a pay by the minute service.
    May as well have fun at their expense!

  • Could you please remove the link, someone could accidentally click it and go to the site. im sure that LogMeIn is fine if used correctly, but let’s not make it too easy for them, hey?

  • Recently I have taken to answering these calls in Japanese.
    The fact I am not Japanese does not worry me as I have learned a very simple phrase which I ask again & again to their inane questions
    駅はどこですかEki wa dokodesu ka ( which asks “Where is the train station”?
    Callers simply can’t comprehend what is going on.

  • Very entertaining reading – some excellent retorts – I enjoy doing everything possible to string them out and waste their time – stealing their time prevents them from moving on to some other person.

    Serious questions to stop them in their tracks:
    (1) – what is my account number or serial number or tax file number?
    (2) – what is my date of birth?
    (3) – what is my IP address?
    (4) – what is the current version of software on my machine?

    Fun Question – that ensures a wide range of responses
    Does your mother know that you steal money from people for a living?

    I absolutely detest the whole range of scammers – phone, e-mail and postal mail scams – stealing other peoples money with no consideration of the financial damage and devastation they cause individuals and families.

    No sympathy whatsoever in regards to wasting their time whenever I get the chance – time wasted on me is less time they have to scam others.

    I run a scam information page via one of the web sites I manage – many of the visitors to this site are senior citizens who are basically trusting and get sucked in by the plethora of phone scams – easy targets who can least afford to have their money stolen.

    The web page is http://www.cardiff-rsl.com/scam-information.htm or search for “cardiff scam-information”

    Sorry if web pages are not allowed to be linked here – feel free to strip it out if I have offended any rules – but it is full of information which is intended to warn people in terms they will understand more easily – just a free civic service to warn people what is out there and the devious methods they used to do serious harm to others without remorse.

    Thank you for the opportunity to input and keep up your retorts and wasting phone scammers time – make life a little bit miserable/annoying for them for a change.

  • I ALWAYS hit 1 on my phone keypad to speak to someone live. Then I hold the phone away from my face and speak very quietly so they can barely hear me but can’t make out what I’m saying. I repeat this mumble a couple of times and then… SCREAM INTO THE PHONE hoping that they’ve turned up their volume and are straining to hear 😛

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