Like I was saying in Part 1, in recent months I’ve received an increasing number of phone calls from fraudsters offering to part me from my money and my identity. They do this via robocalls with alarming or threatening messages informing me my social security number has been hacked or I’m wanted by the FBI for securities fraud.
Most mature people would hang up the moment they realized they were being defrauded. But I never claimed to be mature. No, I prefer to have fun with these sleaze balls and egg them on for as long as I can keep them on the line.
These calls typically start with a robo-message, urging me to press 1 to talk to a live agent. And they always end the same way – with the conman hanging up on me.
Here are more examples of actual phone exchanges I’ve had with phone scammers – some of whom actually had a rudimentary command of the English language. These all really happened.
The Jury Duty Scam
Robo message: “This is the King County Superior Court calling to inform you that you failed to report for jury duty within the past month. As a result, the Sheriff’s department will be coming to your home with a warrant for your arrest – unless you explain your absence immediately. Press “1” to speak to a member of the court system.”
So I press 1.
Mary Nash: This is Superior Court Assistant Clerk Mary Nash (spoken with a thick Filipino accent). Who am I speaking with?
ME: Hi, Mary. My name is Rodger Staubach. Can you help me? I swear I have no recollection of missing jury duty. I take that as a sacred commitment to my community, my country and my God. I feel terrible. How long will my sentence be?
Nash: What do you mean?
ME: I mean, will the court take into consideration that I have not had a moving violation in over two years? Would they go more lenient if I mentioned I am a veteran? [Note to the reader: I am not a veteran.]
Nash: Slow down. What is your social security number and your date of birth?
ME: 045-56-7642. And my date of birth is December 25, 1968. I was born on the same day as Baby Jesus. Do you believe in the Baby Jesus, Mary?
Nash: Pardon me?
ME: Do you take Baby Jesus as your lord and savior? He will cleanse you of all your sins, if you just accept him as your lord. Are you willing to commit yourself to Jesus today, with me as your spirit guide, Mary?
Nash: Are you okay, sir?
ME: Pray with me, won’t you, Mary? Hey, did you know that Mary was the name of Baby Jesus’s mother. Did you know that, Mary? Would you like to confess your sins before Baby Jes – …
The Computer Repair Scam
Robo message: “This is Microsoft with an important announcement about your computer operating system. We have identified that your computer’s operating system may have become infected by the “Hercules” virus. If you would like us to remove this virus at no cost to you, we can do it remotely by phone. Please press “1” for a tech support agent to assist you.”
So I press 1.
Agent Collins: This is Agent Collins (spoken with what appears to be a thick Indian accent). Can you please tell me your name and which Windows Operating System you have and your credit card number?
ME: Sure. It’s Manning. Archibald Manning. Hey, you’re not going to charge my credit card are you, Agent Carlin?
Collins: No, sir. And it’s Collins. I just need your credit card number so we can confirm whether your Windows license is still current. Mr. Manning, please verify your card number for our records.
ME: Thank you, Agent Cowhand. It’s 1843-4365-6327-0928. And I know you didn’t ask for it, but my Bank of America checking account number is 8849329149. And if it might help identify me in your system, my Passport number is C34097749. Would it be helpful if I provided you my Hyundai’s VIN number as well? Whatever info you need, just tell me.
Collins: Um, that’s okay. Give me your email address so I can initiate the remote repair.
ME: Happy to help, Agent Cowlick. It’s A_Manning@SeattlePolice.gov– ……
The COVID Vaccination Scam
Robo message: “This is an important message from the CDC. If you have had the COVID-19 vaccine within the past five months, there is a possibility that you may have received an infected vaccination that could have long-term harmful effects to your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. To find out whether your vaccination might be among the corrupted batches, press 1 to speak to a medical assistant.”
So I press 1.
Nurse Claire: This is Nurse Claire. What is your name and which vaccine did you receive? Please provide the dates of those vaccinations.
ME: Hi, Nurse Claire. Oh my. This is very scary. Um, my name? Jonathan… Elway. Anyhoo, I got the Pfizer vaccine. Or was it the Moderna? No wait, I think it might have been the AstraZeneca. Or was it that Russian one whose name I can never remember? All I know is, after the second one, I got really sleepy, a little achy, and had a craving for pistachios. Does that help? No? Let me ask my wife. She’ll know. [Then I put “Nurse Claire” on hold for a minute while I play Solitaire on my computer.]
I’m back. It was definitely Moderna. And I got them on March 12th and March 15th.
Nurse Claire: Are you sure about the dates? Because you’re supposed to wait at least four weeks between the shots. Can you tell me your social security number so I can confirm those dates?
ME: I was able to get in fast for the second shot because I gave the check-in person a $25 Target gift card. Oh, sh*t! Is that considered bribery? Am I in trouble with the Feds now?
Nurse Claire: I would not know. What I need is your social– …
ME: Hey, can I ask you a question, Nurse Claire? When they implanted the microchip in me, would it cause me to start acting weird? Because ever since my second shot, I keep thinking I can fly like an eagle. And lately I have an inexplicable desire to go bowling – and I used to hate bowling. Do you think that’s because of the chip? Also, do you know what language they speak in Uzbekistan?
It’s so much fun. Trust me. Next time don’t hang up on the scammer. Engage them and see how long you can keep them on the line before they hang up in despair. I promise, it’ll be hilarious, or my name isn’t Joe Namath.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021