These days, it seems I get more junk and spam phone calls than phone calls from my friends and family! It is enough to make you want to bin your phone all together. Calls on the land-line are especially annoying as it is a difficult number to change. A lot of the calls I get are scammers, people trying to get your money any way they can. I am fortunate, I grew up in an age where we were taught about the dangers of these sorts of calls but there are plenty of people, particularly of my grandparents generation, that get duped into giving away their life savings. There are many different types of scam, some include trying to get the victim to hand over their bank card and trying to push double glazing that gets paid for and never delivered. Part of the issue is that the more we wise up about the scams, the more clever and convincing they are becoming. And sometimes you don’t even need to fall for a scam to fall victim to a scammer. With things like ransomware clicking on one wrong link is all it takes for them to hold your computer and everything on it to ransom.
My most recent caller caught me at a particularly bad time. I am frustrated at the moment due to only having one arm (the wrong one at that) available after breaking my scapula (shoulder)… leaving me in a sling and in considerable pain. In reaching for the phone I leant on my bad shoulder… which HURT. And then I get told, in very broken English, that my computer has a virus that could make me lose ALL of my data in an irretrievable way unless I paid him £249.99 upfront and gave him remote access to my computer so he could remove it.
I figured I had two options.. one tell him his mother should be ashamed of him for trying to scam vulnerable women and hear him hang up… or have some fun with him. I went with the latter. Mostly because the scammers are used to being insulted so it doesn’t phase them in the least, and partially because I was bored.
To begin, I pretended to start hyperventilating and crying. I started yelling about how all my precious pictures were on the computer and that I couldn’t bare to lose them. I pretended I was getting my bank card when instructed while simultaneously telling him I couldn’t breathe and that I needed an ambulance as soon as we were done talking. I read out the first two numbers of my card, while he was telling (begging, really) me to calm down. Then I turned it up a notch, and demanded to know what this virus was called and then asked him if it was contagious and if I was going to die or if I needed vaccinating. He genuinely sounded worried about me actually bless him. I read out the next (fake) two numbers of my card before crying about my parents having to bury me so young and my daughter having to be without her mother, and I asked him why this virus attacked me and what I did wrong. He was telling me to take deep slow breaths and I could hear the chatter in the background die down a bit. He kept saying “you won’t die, you won’t die, don’t worry” over and over. I was genuinely starting to cry with laughter a bit at this point, which was probably why I was so convincing.
Finally, I decided enough was enough, I had had my fun. So I ended the call by saying, in a suddenly calm and serious voice “Well, this was fun. We should do it again sometime!” then ended with “You let yourself down, you let your mother down, you let your country down…” *click*.