The accented voice on the call to my wife began with, “Hello, my name is Charlie Johnson.”
However, nobody who phones us and says he is calling from Microsoft and wants to help us repair our computer turns out to be genuine. Microsoft doesn’t do that.
Scammers actually do that. (Beware, my fellow elders.)
The calls appear to come from India. The callers all speak with an Indian accent and they tell us they have an ordinary run-of-the-mill Anglo name like Charlie Johnson. They think nobody will doubt them if they hide behind a name common to this culture.
So when my wife received that call the other day and the caller said his name is Charlie Johnson, she said, “No, it isn’t.”
“Why do you say that?” he asked, seeming to be genuinely surprised.
“Why do you think?” she replied.
“All right, ma’am,” he conceded, “I am an Indian gentleman.”
He started to give her the sales pitch, but he was no gentleman because he told her he was calling from Microsoft and ready to “fix” her computer problem.
“Why should I believe you when you just lied to me?” she asked.
With that, the dishonest pseudo gentleman hung up.
The swindle is always the same when we receive those calls. They say they are from Microsoft and have detected a problem with our computer. They explain that our computer is seriously flawed, though it isn’t. Then they charge you to fix your computer.
A couple of years ago, I fell for the hustle at first. That’s because I was honored that a famous company like Microsoft would care enough to detect my troubled computer amid the millions of computers. They were nice enough to call and give me the guidance of the electronic geniuses who work for that company, people who know Bill Gates personally.
About halfway into the sting, I came to my senses, smelled a hint of curry and realized Bill Gates doesn’t know me from a prairie dog.
I turned off my computer, and the scammers along with it.
Several times, I have heard from more of those phonies flying under a Microsoft flag. And I’m always amused that they all speak with an Asian Indian accent.
By fortunate coincidence, an Asian Indian accent is one of the easiest for most people, including me, to imitate. It’s a cross between high church British with a Swedish tempo plus light overtones of turkey gobbling.
So I was ready for the “Microsoft” bad boys last week when one of their number called again.
“I am calling from Microsoft about your computer,” said the professional liar in the usual Indian accent. “My name is Kevin Jones.”
“I don’t believe anyone with your accent is named Kevin Jones,” I said in my best Asian Indian accent.
He hung up.
As they say in Sweden, “Whoops!”
However, computer hustles are not a line of work anyone would envy. And if the truth be known, the sales staff – callers like Kevin Jones and Charlie Johnson – are also victims of that line of work. It would not be surprising to peer into their workplace and see dozens of emaciated and exhausted young men working for dirt in a verbal sweat shop.
On the other hand, let’s not forget the senior citizens and other soft targets who are taken advantage of by scammers who prey on the gullible and the defenseless.
Someday when the victims of the scam experience one con too many, they will marshal their anger and march on sweat shop owners everywhere.
I promise you that’s going to happen, or my name isn’t Kevin Jones.Contact columnist Bill Hall at email@example.com or 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.