Scamming calls

A few weeks ago I received a phone call at home that came up as an International number, so I was fully prepared for some sort of advertising. The typical silence after answering such calls was eventually answered by an Indian women confirming she was speaking to Mr O’Leary. Of course, there was the usual stumble as she tried to decide how to pronounce my surname. Eventually she said she was calling to help with the issues I’ve been having with my Windows computer. I pointed out to her that I don’t own a Windows machine, so that was the end of that. It didn’t occur to me until I’d hung up that this was probably a scam and some fun could have been had.

Well, tonight I got the chance to play. I’d known for a while that an International number had again been ringing us through the day and Jo had taken to ignoring them. When I answered I tried to sound suitably naive and welcoming of their offer to fix the apparent problems on my (still non-existent) PC.

After confirming which the ‘windows’ key on the keyboard is, he asked me to press Win-R and confirm what I could see. Unfortunately it’s been too long since I’ve used Windows so I couldn’t remember what this did. I suspected it was the run dialog (which it is) but I didn’t quite have the confidence to say so. So I launched into saying how, unfortunately for them I’m an engineer, know about computers and that I knew they were trying to scam me. I kept this up for a while, ignoring their denials until the line went dead - they hung up on me.

An hour later, we got another International call. I had since confirmed that Win-R brings up the run dialog, so I was looking forward to taking it further. This time however it was quite different. After confirming they were speaking to the right person, I was told I should go kill myself, set fire to my house, dig a grave and lie in it and various other colourful suggestions. Clearly I had upset them. The guy on the phone, also with Indian accent, told me as an engineer I was lowering the intelligence of computer users. Oh the irony. The insults continued for a while, with occasional laughter in the background. To be fair, I was laughing back. Eventually I had had enough so hung up on them.

The phone rang seconds later; he clearly hadn’t liked that one bit. He told me off quite clearly for hanging up and the insults and threats continued. I told him I was recording the call so it could be reported and have them shut down… not at all true, but there you go. Eventually I told him I’d had enough and suggested we just leave it there and get on with our lives. He agreed and we hung up together.

It was quite a bizarre thing to experience. The saddest part of all is their scam clearly must work often enough for it to be worth doing. I’ll give BT a ring tomorrow to see if anything can be done to block the calls. Their website implies they can’t block international numbers as they are not properly recognised by the system, but that it is also very rare to get nuisance calls from overseas…