Once more, unto the phone lines with the crackly digital noise and “the viruses that are harming your computer”. Only this one was a stayer. Real endurance.
I’ve written before about how much I loathe Microsoft scam callers. I’m hesitant to call anyone names, but they’re essentially scum, feeding off the paranoia and worries of those less inclined to know their way around a computer, and that annoys me.
So, as is my habit, whenever I get a call, if I’ve time, I string them along. Tonight was such a night; I did have a few things to do around the house when a scammer called, but I figured I’d try to see if I could multi-task.
It turned out that not only could I multi-task, but I could in fact get just about everything else done I needed to. Except maybe vacuuming. That might have been pushing it. Still, I did get two kids to brush their teeth, help make their beds, boil water for two hot water bottles, put said kids to bed, make a cup of coffee and delete a whole load of old files off an old system that I’d been meaning to see to for ages. Or as I like to call it: Multi-scam-tasking.
I also started tweeting it, because that’s always fun. Here’s the transcript. Feel free to steal and or embellish on any of these ideas as you see fit if you get another call of this type.
Warning. There’s a LOT of transcript. Also, it has typos, because I was tweeting on the go.
MS Scammer off the starboard bow!
This time, I’m going to have a Mac.
I quickly abandoned that thought. Too limiting in terms of stringing him along.
He is going to secure my computer “from the hackers”. Well, that’s reassuring.
Oh dear. I have closed my browser. Again.
oh noes! I cannot remember how to clear the address bar. So happy this scammer is here to help me.
Tragedy. In the middle of typing “Teamviewer” I had a fake fatal exception error! Which he’s now claiming as hacker proof.
Astonishingly, BSODs appear to be something they have NO script for. I just looked up an image of one online while talking to him so I could pass off reasonable sounding BSOD-gibberish. It worked. I had to reboot.
And now I’m rebooting! Oh no! 316 updates to apply!
Yay. He keeps telling me to take my time. I intend to. Have also loaded dishwasher and put 2 kids to bed while on call. #MultiScamTasking
And now he wants me to power cycle it. In hte middle of an update. Sounds legit.
He almost caught me at that point because he could hear me typing. But I have an inbuilt lie for that, and it’s one I’ve used before…
No, this is my only computer. That tapping noise you hear is my wife’s typewriter. #StupidScammerIsStupid
Apparently I can hit escape to skip updates. It isn’t working….
Nine minutes off my own personal best. I CAN DO THIS!
Oh, I don’t know whether I’m running Windows 7 or XP. Do they not target Win8 users? #StupidScammer
Disaster. I have typed “TElephantViewer”. Well, he did say “E as in Elephant”. Not my fault.
Google has no entries for “Telephantviewer”. There’s a surprise.
Two minutes. I can taste victory! TWO MINUTES
Hah! He doesn’t want me to click the Teamviewer Ad!
This surprised me. Every time I’d enter his commmands into a browser — they gave up on the Run command to show me the problems pretty quickly this time around — I’d enter “scam” after it, but you still get a teamviewer ad. Which they don’t want you to click on. I wonder why?
It says press any key. Which key do I press? #CannotBelieveThatWorked
A dangerous joke; I nearly cracked at that one. But there is indeed a Simpsons quote for everything.
33 minutes! RECORD TERRITORY!
I think I’ll make myself a coffee.
So I got a little sillier, to see what would work.
I have typed wwwdotteamviewerdotcom. Apparenlty I’m meant to “remove Dot”. But she’s my aunt!
Now type “Amy”…. I don’t know anyone called Amy.
Sorry, Mr Moffat.
Oh. AMMYY. It seems to warn of something called AMMYY scam!
And now I’m reading him the AMMYY scam google search page. He doesn’t seem to get it…
I actually figured that me saying “scam” so often would make them hang up. Didn’t work.
Oh, he doesn’t want me on that page.
42 minutes. Clearly the meaning of scam.
Should have recorded this, but i’m testing a landline phone right now and juggling kids. Too tricky.
I’m literally reading him out “AMMYY Warning Against Tech Support Scams”… and he doesn’t get it. Maybe I’m too subtle.
“Timviewer” — I don’t know anyone called Tim. He’s determined, this scam caller.
Well I’ll be. There IS a software tool called “Timviewer”. It’s a Playstation utility. I have learned something from this scam call!
“A viewer, importer and exporter for TIMs (playstation image files)” I don’t think this is the teamviewer he wants me on…
52 minutes. Do I dare dream of the hour? He’s telling me to “be careful”. Only real danger is spilling my coffee, or LOLs.
Ooh. Level 2 support guy. It’s like a senior scammer!
And we’re back to the browser tango. Now taking public suggestions!
“Thankyou for your patience, sir. There are lots of problems with your computer.” O RLY?
56 minutes. So very very close!
Now going for the third BSOD. They don’t seem to have heard of them.
One Hour! We have the hour!
There are lots of virus going on.
Hey hey! There’s a virus going on, there’s a virus going on. #GettingDaftNow
It turns out that if you sing “There’s a virus going on”, they can’t quite work out what the problem is (my horrible singing notwithstanding)
Wow. I just put the phone down for two minutes to drink coffee. They’re still there.
My primary use for this computer? Why, I use it to talk to my daughter. In Russia. Via MSN.
Again, I give them a feed line like that… and get NOTHING. They have no sense of comic timing or opportunity.
I can hear the scam reps in the background now.
The call got quite bad in reception terms around then, and I started hearing the guys in the background running the same script.
Yes, my computer’s fully turned on.
For the first time in history, I’m not making a smutty pun of that. 1hr 10 mins and counting.
WOW. He’s trying the whole routine. AGAIN. At this stage, I should probably seek charity sponsorship.
You told me to type “Deamveiwer”. (sidenote: That appears to be its own scammy remote app, too. I’m learning)
Oh, “T”. Right. I’ll just have to delete that and start again.
And I seem to have accidentally typed “Teamviewer Scam” into google again. Astonishing how I keep doing that.
And I keep reading out “Teamviewer Scam” to them, and they’re not catching on….
At this point they insisted I would have to call them, and wanted me to write down their phone number. Of course, I’m not going to do that at all, ever, no way. So I try to come up with something, only to hit my own fatal error…
Write down their phone number. “Oh. I don’t have a pen.” And THAT was what they hung up on. One hour. Seventeen minutes. #ExitStageLeft
One hour and seventeen minutes. During which I got lots of other stuff done, it should be noted. But during which my admiration for their daft persistence, mixed with grim determination on my side because I genuinely LOATHE this scam only intensified.
In an age of computers, you’d think they’d keep records. Then again, maybe they do, and it’s just whenever they call Microsoft, they get told their computers are “full of viruses”. I’d like to think that was the case.
Image: Joshua Smith