My Mate Paul: Microsoft Scam CallsDecember 16, 2016
Welcome one and all to a rather random posting on my part. Now, this was not the post that I was intending to put up today. What has essentially happened here is that I’ve had a number of telephone calls of late that I thought it would be worth talking about. So, what are these calls? Good news? Lucky competition wins? Exciting opportunities? Well … no, no, and no. These calls all start in essentially the same way:
“Good morning. My name is Paul, and I am calling you from Windows Technical Support, OK?”
The thing is, I’m not so naïve as to believe this spiel. I have over the years had countless calls like this, including one wonderful one where the person opened with the line, “I am calling from your computer.” When I asked what they meant, they responded, “Like Windows, or Apple, or something like that.” Way to commit to the scam, right? The problem is, while I know these are scam artists, not everyone does. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to believe what these people are saying, whether because they honestly don’t consider the integrity of the caller, or because the scammer just got lucky and found someone who really is having computer problems.
I really don’t like that that happens. The idea that some vulnerable person is being mercilessly ripped off by these people is actually quite maddening. While I am happy to report them to the necessary authorities, all that means is that, until they’re caught, they’ll just move on to the next number on their list ad nauseam until they get someone that bites. For my part, I like to try to delay this inevitable result as long as possible by having some fun. How do I have some fun? Well, here are the last three calls that I received. Or as close as I can remember them anyway.
Tuesday 13 December 2016
Paul: Good morning. My name is Paul, and I am calling you from Windows Technical Support, OK?
Me: Hello there Paul.
Paul: Hello. The reason that I am calling is that we have detected that your computer, when you are using it, is sending negative updates, so we would like to fix this for you as the reason that I am calling.
Me: Computer? There must be some mistake mate. We’re a religious group here. Apart from this phone, we don’t believe in modern technology.
Paul: I mean your computer sir. It is broken, and we want to fix it. All you need to do is log on to …
Me: (cutting in) … no mate, our religion forbids computer use. We only have this phone. Sorry, hold on, I’m just reading an e-mail … … … … Yeah, so, we don’t have a computer. We aren’t allowed them mate.
Paul hangs up
Wednesday 14 December 2016
Paul: Good morning. My name is Paul, and I am calling you from Windows Technical Support, OK? (Yes, seriously, the same person called again and gave the same intro.)
Me: Windows? No, you’re alright. We had the double glazing done recently, so we’re all good for that. Thanks though.
Paul: I am sorry sir, I mean your computer or laptop. I am from Microsoft.
Me: Oh, right! Sorry Paul, my mistake. What can I do for you?
Paul: We have detected that your computer, when you open it, is sending or receiving negative updates, and we would like to fix this for you.
Me: Negative updates? How’s that happening?
Paul: What it is that is happening is that when you turn your machine on, it is sending or receiving e-mails with negative updates.
Me: Oh, that’s terrible! I’m quite a positive person, so the idea that it’s sending negative e-mails is quite upsetting for me.
Paul: No, you are not sending e-mails sir.
Me: Oh, I know. You said it wasn’t me, it was my computer. That’s awful though. I hate the idea that my computer is sending negative stuff to some poor old person somewhere.
Paul: I, uhm … what I need you to do is go to a website so that we can remote access your machine and help, OK?
Me: Of course, of course, I’ll just switch it on now … … … Sorry, it takes a while sometimes … Ah, that’s good. The screen’s loaded up with a nice little smiley face on the log-in screen. Thanks, but I don’t think my computer’s feeling negative anymore.
Paul: No sir, your computer is sending or receiving negative updates.
Me: I know it was, but it’s smiling now, so I think it’s cheered up.
Paul: Please excuse me a moment …
???: Hello, I am the manager of Paul. I understand your computer is having negative updates.
Me: It was, but like I said to Paul, I’ve got a smiling face on the screen, so I think it’s OK now. It’s not negative anymore.
???: Sir, how can you say that without us checking?
Me: Because it has a smiling face on the screen. I think that my computer is happy now.
???: I am afraid that that is not the same as fixing the problem. That is just a picture.
Me: Oh, I see. I must say, this is most pleasant. I don’t think that I’ve had a visitor to the house for about 8 years now, and before Paul, most people hang up on me after about two minutes. You’ve made a lonely man very happy.
??? grunts and hangs up
Friday 16 December 2016
Dave: Hello, my name is Dave, and I am calling from the Technical Support Team. I am calling today about the problems that you are experiencing when using your computer that is experiencing the problems that you are experiencing. Can I please confirm, are you the main owner of the computer and or laptop?
Me: Which one do you mean?
Dave: I am sorry, I just wish to know if you are the main owner of the machine.
Me: Well, I might be. What I mean is, which machine are you talking about? We have a Vectrex Green Screen, a Commodore 64, and an Amstrad CPC. If you can tell me which one you’re calling about then …
Dave hangs up
There have been others over the years too. My favourite was possibly the one that I played along with and told that my laptop was running like I was using a 56K dial-up modem and that it was like ‘going back in time’ … at which point I made some noises akin to a recording playing backwards and restarted the conversation, right from the intros. I managed to restart the conversation a second time at the exact same point and get part way through it again before he hung up that time.
Anyway, the main thing here is that all the time they’re stuck on the phone with me, they aren’t on the phone with someone who’ll fall for their nonsense. Oh, and I’m not posting this to claim that I’m some great hero for doing so, I’m posting this to show that it can be fun to delay the scammers. If you get a call like this, and you have the time of course, see how long you can keep them talking. It may well make you smile, and you’ll at least be giving someone else a brief respite. Please though, do report them to the relevant authorities too. These calls never seem to stop coming, and the more that can be shut down or prosecuted, the better.
Thanks for reading everybody, I’ll catch ya later.