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Funny Messy Life

80 EpisodesProduced by Michael BlackstonWebsite

Stories about life, relationships, and culture delivered in a way that will help brighten your day or at least make you ask, "What is he smokin'?" But don't worry. It's all in good fun and it's family friendly. I'm Michael Blackston and these are tales from my blog - in audio form - all based on rea… read more

14:29

Messing With Scammers - 054

   I like to mess with the phone scammers that call me eighty times a day. I’ve visited this past time before in Funny Messy Life, every so often, you bump into a topic of content that warrants a second dip in the pool. I was sitting in the parking lot of a restaurant, waiting for them to open for lunch, and trying to decide what to write because I was running close to the deadline for releasing the podcast. I had barely opened the app on my phone where I keep my list of topics, when low and behold, I get a call from a number that seems local, but with a name I didn’t recognize. The planets aligned perfectly, after weeks of trying to be in the right environment to record my playtime, and I got the audio. 

   I’m Michael Blackston, and if you hate getting the “Car Warranty” call, stick around for the whole episode. Because I’ve got more to say about the annoying world of telemarketers, and how they affect my Funny Messy Life.

_________________________

 

   They used to at least be from legit businesses. When telemarketing first began to be considered the smelly armpit of telecommunications society, they were much more limited. They seemed to focus their efforts around the time families were sitting down to dinner, because they knew people were home from work, settling in for the evening, relatively happy. We were eating, which makes us happy. The work day was newly over, which made us happy. Vanna White wasn’t getting letters from AARP yet, and that made us happy. The people who ran the marketing companies knew that “happy” is an emotion conducive to selling garage doors, new carpet, and exciting time share oppportunities. There were also a bazillion surveys they wanted you to take, and calls asking for donations to the campaigns of political candidates you probably wouldn’t vote for, even if they promised to give you your very own Chick-fil-A.

   Then we wised up. Technology gifted us with a glorious thing - Caller I.D. Suddenly, you could look at a display and tell who was calling, and if you didn’t recognize the number, or if it was Aunt Mabel, who always wanted to tell you about her toe fungus, you could ignore the call.

   But alas, technology, as a friend, has two faces. The combination of the internet and phones people carrying in their pockets, on their person, at all times, even to the bathroom, brought out the worst of humanity. The scammer.

   I was never one of those who fell for the early emails from princes in Uganda, but strangely enough, there are plenty who did. There were long lost cousins overseas who just wanted get the millions of inheritance dollars owed to you into your hands, and they’ve been trying to reach you, and now you’re risking losing it all, unless you act immediately, and all you have to do for them to put those millions in your bank is to give them your checking account number.

   People fell for it, and it evolved from there. Now we all get the calls every day. For a while, it was a real person when you answered the phone, but they eventually realized they could cover more ground by having a recorded voice deliver the original bait, then you get a real person, overwhelmingly with an Indian accent, when you press “1” to speak to a representative.

   So in playing with them, I’ve tried several approaches. The first time I talked about this in the podcast, I had some fun recreating fictional situations, but soon, I’ll play the audio from a real one, so stick around. It’s coming up.

   I tried being a super-redneck, but that never gets me very far, and my goal is to waste as much of their time as I possibly can so they’ll have less time to bother others. I know it’s really a drop in the bucket, but if they’re going to be relentless, I might as well get my licks in too. I started watching YouTube videos of hackers royally disrupting these scammers and actually getting into their computer systems, while posing as victims. Those have been fun to have going in the background while I work, and they’ve given name a bit of insight into the way these chunks of sewer filth think. They’re not after a redneck. A redneck may have a distinct way of speaking, but many of them are quite intelligent. The scammer recognizes that. No, they want someone who they can intimidate, and who they think will be uneducated enough with technology that they can scare them into giving them all of their information. I found that older ladies hit the bullseye for how long I could keep one of these Jack Wagons on the phone.

   I usually get one of three main scams.

  1. The Car Warranty. - They tell you they’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s warranty. I’m not sure how it works, but it’s one of the most commonly used. Facebook is lousy with memes that portray outlandish ways this scam could be done.
  2. The IRS Is Coming To Take Your Butt DOWN! - They’ve never been able to tell exactly why, but they swear if you’ll give them the last four digits of your social security number, they’ll make it all go away.
  3. The Social Security Administration Is Coming To Take Your Butt DOWN! - Same deal. Someone has used your number to steal your identity and perform all sorts of lewd and unseemly acts that would embarrass your grandmother, even if she’s already gone to heaven. They can’t tell you WHAT these identity thieves have done, but they want you to take their word for it - the details would straighten the curls on your grandpa’s bald head.
  4. You Amazon Account Has Been Hacked And Someone Bought An IPhone For $100,000. - I haven’t gotten far with these guys yet, but my new persona might finally break down that wall.

   So what is this new persona? I think I’ll name her Aunt Mabel. She’s feisty, and loads of fun. She’s cheerful, and happy to talk. She’s exactly who they’re targeting. I have to admit that what you’re about not hear is largely inspired by the likes of Jack Vale, and others, because it’s what seems to work.

   So without further ado, we lean into the audio of my latest attempt to waste a scammer’s time. Enjoy.

(Insert Audio)

   There will be more to come. I hope I can remember to always have a way to record these close by. I’ll try out different characters and personas, and maybe, with enough of us fighting back, we can educate people, put a dent in the predatory activity of scammers, and have some fun at the same time.

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