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Scammed

February 17, 2014 by Diane

Phone scam

On Saturday morning the phone rang.

I was half asleep, or half awake, depending on which end of the day you’re looking at, and since it was morning when the phone rang I’ll say half awake. I lurched for the receiver on the third ring.

“Hello?” I said.

I heard a lot of fuzz and a stream of chatter in the background.

“Hello?” I repeated.

“Hello? Hello?” came a man’s voice.

“Hello?”

“Hello?”

Well, this could have gone on all morning. I figured it was a bad connection, what with the spit of rain we were having in California, or maybe a wrong number, so I hung up and hung around near the phone eyeing the bed and then crawled back in.

The phone rang.

I threw back the covers and swung an arm around and picked it up.

“Hello?” I said.

More fuzz, more background noise, and then:

“Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

The accent was from India, the words clipped, the voice sounded official. I had no doubt the man was calling from Microsoft technical support.

“Yes?” I said.

“There is a virus downloading on your computer.”

“What?!” I sat up.

“There is a virus downloading on your computer.”

“I don’t believe you,” I said.

“Oh, yes, ma’am. You can see with your own eyes.”

That made sense. I mean, who else’s eyes would I see with?

“Why are you calling?” I asked, cutting to the chase.

“You have a virus downloading…”

“No I don’t.”

“Yes, ma’am. You can see with your own eyes.”

I hung up. I was all the way awake now, so I stayed up and started making the bed. I thought about the likelihood that my computer might be downloading a virus at that very moment, when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

“You are not,” I insisted.

“Oh, yes, ma’am. I am. I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

“You’re lying.”

“No ma’am.”

I hung up. I refused to believe the calls were anything other than a scam. I got dressed.

The phone rang. I snatched it up. “Hello?”

“Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

This was starting to feel like harassment. This was starting to feel like I was being harassed by a man with an Indian accent in a room full of other men with Indian accents who were pretending to be calling from Microsoft technical support.

“What do you want?”

“You have a virus—”

“Microsoft wouldn’t be calling me,” I said.

“Yes, yes. I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

“This is a scam!” I yelled into the phone.

“No, no, you have a virus.”

“I’m having this call traced,” I said.

Silence. He fumbled the phone and then mumbled, “Hang up, ma’am.”

He was telling ME to hang up.

We both hung up.

I turned on my computer and stood back, waiting. It loaded the same desktop, the same screen saver. No virus.

The phone rang.

“Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding!”

I slammed the receiver down.

I called the police. The non-emergency number. The officer who answered put me on hold long enough so I could work up a good steam, and then he asked me how he could help and I told him I was being harassed by someone claiming to be from Microsoft technical support. I tried to sound cool, but I might have choked on a word or two.

“Oh, I get those calls too,” he said. “It’s a scam. Don’t give them any information.”

“That’s what I thought,” I said, puffing out my chest a little. No sucker here. I hung up.

The phone rang.

I answered. “Hello?”

“Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

“This is a scam,” I stated.

“No, it’s not!” He sounded desperate. “You have a virus—”

I hesitated before hanging up. It occurred to me that this man might be sincere, that maybe, just maybe, this man had a small family in India, and no means of support, and along came a huckster from America passing out flyers saying that Microsoft was hiring customer service reps to sell a useful product to protect innocent people from vicious malware. Maybe this family man picked up one of the flyers on the street, and hurried to stand in line at some nondescript building, and sat down for an interview, straight-backed, his eyes eager, hands clasped in his lap. Maybe he walked home that afternoon with more bounce in his stride, knowing he could buy food for another month.

Maybe, just maybe, this man was being scammed too.

Then again, maybe I was scamming myself by believing this theory.

I hung up.

I picked up my keys and headed out the door. The answering machine would listen to his story if he called again.

So far, he hasn’t.


4 Comments »

  1. Joan merdinger says:

    Wow! Did this actually happen?

  2. bronxboy55 says:

    A computer virus would affect millions of people, wouldn’t it? That’s a lot of phone calls. I think your hunch was correct. And it turned into a great post, too.

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