Note: this post title is inspired by
as I wrote about something similar in a post titled “I hit that telemarketer with the voice of madness” on The Icarus Project forums.
Now, most of the time, I try to be polite to people on the phone. Even telemarketers. I really do. If I think someone is trying to earn a reasonably honest living (although I’ve said telemarketing work is only a few notches above prostitution), I will be kind and polite to them.
But I toss a lot of civility out the window for telephone scammers.
Sometimes I wonder why we get them in the first place. Some are automated calls with recordings offering to consolidate our credit, which I know we don’t need. A very few are offers of so-called business opportunities, which I’d prefer to call “get rich quick schemes” much of the time. Then there are the calls from those faking to be from Microsoft, worrying about my “Windows computer”– and I just laugh at them. I tell them they are amateurs, because I use Linux.
But this particular phone scam was one I consider particularly low-down and slimy, and one I’d run into before: the scammer claims that the IRS has issued an arrest warrant for me. Yeah, right. I don’t pay income tax, and I’ve claimed a hardship exemption on property tax.
Now, telemarketers and scammers used to call direct. Some years back, people devised ways to respond to that, and one of my favorites was the Telecrapper 2000:
But they’ve gotten wise to this. These folks have started making recordings and asking people to call back. Maybe this makes them easier to ignore- but I was itching for some payback of sorts. This particular automated call was a synthesized voice, and just smelled of fake, fake, fake. So I figured I’d call back and really have some fun.
What I didn’t expect, but was pleasantly surprised by, was that MinuteMatt (MM) and Cimmy decided to join in on the fun. I said whatever came to mind: including asking “so what are you wearing?” as if it was a phone sex line, making fake vomiting noises, and saying the most random things as if I had totally lost my mind. Cimmy decided to call me “Harvey” and to insist I’d hurt myself enough and needed to go back to my padded room. MM said a few random things as well, either to sound as crazy as I was, or to fake support for Cimmy’s help. But what really just got me grinning like a loon later was what MM heard the guy saying:
“I’ve never encountered this before. What am I supposed to do?”
I guess I have to give the man some credit. He really tried to hang in there, although he didn’t say a whole lot to me besides claiming he was with the IRS. He just let me yammer and chatter on and on. I wish I had kept track of how long it took, because it seemed like somewhere between 5-10 minutes; way longer than most scammers hang on. I was determined to babble on and on until he hung up, and mercifully, he did– I heard the familiar alarm that comes when a landline phone has been disconnected too long.