When the Elderly Attack

Ah, the world of phone scammers.  Surely, they think when they hear my sweet mother’s voice on the phone, this will be an easy target. I mean, who wouldn’t? Butter wouldn’t melt in that woman’s mouth.

Not so fast, imposter account manager from India, Nigeria, Kalamazoo, or wherever you are!  My mom may have a senior citizen discount to IHOP, and she does in fact know every word to the Hokey Pokey, but make no mistake.  She’s nobody’s fool.

To clarify, my mother does in fact shop at physical stores and use an archaic form of payment known as a “check.”  She actually visits her bank in person, and knows the tellers by name.  She doesn’t shop with those newfangled “online” gizmos everyone else uses.  So from the very beginning, the scam is pointless.

Tired of receiving multiple phone calls daily from “Microsoft” or “Windows” representatives who inform her in heavily accented voices that her computer is sending out “illegal signals,” my mother decided to have a little fun of her own.  She knows that these scammers only want access to her computer to pull out any financial information they can.  I told you, she may have seen Elvis in person (good Elvis, not bloated Elvis), but she isn’t stupid.  My mom is far from demented.  She is slick as an oil spill, but now, phone scammer from India or Nigeria, you made her mad.  You won’t like her when she’s mad. Trust me.

As soon as one of these calls comes through these days, my mom just pours herself a cup of coffee and sits out on the porch to feed her minions wild “pets” while she talks to the oh-so-helpful con artist on the other end of the line.  Little Miss Sugar Sweet has a backbone of steel and wit as sharp as a Ginsu knife.

A typical phone call with her scammer friends may begin innocently enough.  The heavily accented voice warns her that she is about to lose everything…EVERYTHING, we tell you…because her licenses are expiring. You read that right. Her licenses. Her computer licenses. She greets the man warmly, thanking him so much for caring about little ol’ her and her big, bad computer.

Voice quaking in fear and sorrow, she asks the kind gentleman to discuss her options.  He advises her to turn her computer on.  Mom makes clunking noises as if she is walking to the computer.  She may thud her coffee cup and bang the phone a few times for emphasis.  Then, she sighs heavily and in apparent frustration.

“I’m sorry, how do I turn this thing on again?  I hate computers, I’m not used to this…oh wait.  Wait, there it is.”  She clicks a fingernail on the table.  “There.  It’s coming on.”  She sets the phone down and sips her coffee; she gives it a solid five minutes before picking the phone back up.  “It’s on.  Now what do you need me to do?”

The patient account representative from Microsoft Windows of India or Nigeria or Kalamazoo advises mom to hit the control and ALT buttons.  “Control?  I don’t see a button that says control.”  Clicks fingernails against table. “I found something.  Let me get my glasses…well, this thingy says CTRL.  You’d think a computer could spell better than this.”  She allows a few minutes to go by as she throws some bird seed to her adoring fans.  “ALT.  As in, alternative?  What is this an alternative to?  I always prefer originals.  Delete?  This thingy that says DEL?  I thought that meant delicate.”  More fingernail tapping, than a horrified tone of voice.  “DEL means delete?  I’m sorry, sir, I don’t want to delete anything.  Why would I delete my alternative button?  Then I wouldn’t have a choice at all.”  And so it goes, until the scammer is nearly yelling from frustration. She made one cry.

Mom likes to play with the scammers; she feels the longer she keeps them on the line, the less time they have to scam someone else. More power to her, I say.

The best secret she keeps, though, is how fruitless her scammer’s efforts really are after all is said and done.  I mean, even if he were successful and got into the secret vault that is her computer system, all he would find are funny cat videos, pictures of kittens, about a million pictures of my kids, a video of my brother’s dog, funny memes and joke pages, and links to America’s Funniest Home Videos from the entire past decade.  Her favorite is a link to a local zoo who has live-cam footage of a giraffe on “birth watch” who we both agree is just having a joke at all our expense because this sneaky giraffe has yet to give any indication she’s going into labor. I think she just wants the romaine lettuce treats they’re giving her…good old April the giraffe is likely running a nifty scam of her own.

The moral of this story, dear scammers, is it’s just not worth it.  God love her, mom has a new hobby now though, and that’s cool. Keeps her occupied.

And be warned, she will out-scam you every time.

We’re Here to Help

So my mother keeps getting calls from Windows.  Now I’m pretty computer savvy and can help her troubleshoot most problems over the phone, but how an “operating system” has her phone number, even I can’t figure out. But somehow, it does, and representatives from said operating system keep calling her. Oh, I know what you’re thinking…but they’re not from Microsoft mind you – they’ll correct you on that – they’re from WINDOWS.  That’s one pretty jazzed up operating system, let me tell you.

Anyway.

A serious revelation came upon the wave of these almost daily calls from Windows, one that I have yet to wrap my head around and which will likely divide the family once word gets out. My mother is apparently breaking the law on a regular basis. My straight as an arrow, staunch supporter of “following the rules,” never tells a lie mother. I always knew she was hiding something. I’m ashamed to admit this to you but I feel that it’s necessary to out my mother for the hardened, albeit secretive, criminal she is (it’s my civic duty after all). Regardless of the shame this will surely bring down on generations to come in the family, I feel it’s important the truth be known.

My mother…my 71-year-old mother…has been sending out illegal signals from her computer!  I know, I know, right!?  It’s awful! And don’t let her innocent face or sweet (*cough cough*) demeanor fool you either. I never have trusted her and I’m not buying into her alibi either. Oh sure your computer’s been off…oh of course a computer can’t send out illegal signals…oh what the hell even are illegal signals and what idiot would believe that…yeah, right! WINDOWS wouldn’t lie!

So. Yeah. There you have it. People with strange accents keep calling my mother claiming to be from Windows and accusing her of sending out illegal signals. Of course they’re happy to fix that problem right up for her so long as she gives them remote access to her computer. Seriously, are people silly enough to fall for this? I mean, I guess they are or these so-called Windows reps wouldn’t keep doing it. I imagine if they failed to get a response from people in general, the scam would lose its appeal and these low-class grifters would move on to something from Column B on their menu of illicit activities.

Now my mother may not be Bill Gates where computers are concerned, but she’s not stupid…far from it. And no matter her experience with computers, she’s wise to the ways of the world. She’s not exactly the type of person to fall for such heavy-handed tactics. Actually, you’d have to be pretty damn smooth to get something past her, which come to think of it, I can’t recall ever happening. It’s sad to think there are people who fall victim to such crimes and lose a great deal when they do.

Depending on her mood when they call, she’ll hang up or tell them off. Of course trying to get to the root of the organization by asking rational questions gets her nowhere as they adamantly insist they are from Windows and provide no other clues – their backstory is pretty uncreative if you ask me.

Personally, I think my mother should just have fun with it – because time is money to these lame-ass crooks on the other end of the phone. They can’t afford to waste time on a fruitless call but then again, they don’t want to let one get away that might possibly be “hooked.” So I say play it coy enough that they believe you, but come up with some outlandish questions and comments so that you might enjoy the exchange at their expense.

For instance, tell them it’s not your computer and you know nothing about computers, but you’d be happy to help them out…you certainly don’t want any illegal signals coming out of your computer box.  Can you just see their eyes lighting up from way over here!?  They’ll probably figure they’ve hit the jackpot.  Ask the guy (or gal) “where’s the on button?”  Which of course should be followed up with: “Well, the screen’s still blank,” when they ask you to move forward to the next step.  Then after he goes thru all of the troubleshooting to get the thing turned on (and it’s not working)…ask him if you should plug it in.  While sitting in the comfort of your living room watching t.v. and drinking a glass of wine (far away from your computer), you could pretend to go through a whole series of missteps that would drive the person nuts. And waste their valuable time.

Or you could always take a completely different tack – tell the scammer you’re just not sure how the illegal signals are getting out of the house given all the foil you have on the windows and around the doors – it certainly put a stop to the aliens’ chatter.

 

Im-Here-To-Help

 usually leads to —

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