Controlling The Scammers So They Don’t Control You

, , , | Legal | April 24, 2020

I’m a software engineer and often work at home for the quiet. I’m stuck on a problem, so when a scammer calls, I decide to break the boredom. My keyboard is a MS Sidewinder which has a bunch of extra “macro” keys down the left. 

Caller: “Hello, sir, I am from technical support. Our report says your computer has many viruses.”

Usually, I do the “Which computer?” thing, as I have a few, but…

Me: “Oh, that sounds bad.”

Caller: “Yes, sir. We can show you the errors on your computer if you follow my instructions.”

This is usually where they get you to open Event Viewer, which always has lots of errors.

Me: “Okay. What do I do? I’m not very technical. “

Caller: “Sir, please press the Windows key.”

Me: “Which key is that?”

Caller: “Sir, on your keyboard, do you see a ‘control’ key?” 

Me: “Yes, I do.”

In fact, with this keyboard, I see two.

Caller: “Okay, sir, next to the ‘control’ key, do you see a key with four squares on it?” 

Me: “No.”

Caller: “Sir, what is the key on the bottom left of your keyboard?”

Me: “It says, ‘S6.’”

Remember, I said it had extra keys. The caller is silent.

Me: “Are you still there? I’m worried about these viruses.”

Caller: “Sir, can you tell me what key is beside the ‘control’ key on the left of your keyboard?”

Me: “Ah, I see your problem. I must have an odd keyboard, as the ‘control’ key is on the right of my keyboard. It’s got a little box with four lines in it on one side and an arrow key on the other.” 

Caller: “Sir, I am transferring you to my supervisor.”

Supervisor: “Sir, what is next to your ‘control’ key?”

Me: “Listen, I don’t want to sound critical or get her in trouble, but I don’t think your colleague is well trained. She kept telling me to look for the ‘control’ key on the left of my keyboard when it’s on the right. Do you think I have a non-standard keyboard?”

We then do the dance around the bottom left and my macro keys again. 

Supervisor: “Sir, I need you to look at the ‘control’ key on the left of your keyboard.”

Me: “How many times? I am looking at my keyboard right now and I can see the ‘control’ key on the right.”

Supervisor: “Sir, is there another ‘control’ key on the left?” 

Me: “Oooh, so there is. I feel terrible now. Will you apologize to your colleague for me, please? Do you think I upset her?”

The supervisor has a bit of tension in his voice now.

Supervisor: “She’s fine. Now, sir, what key is beside the ‘control’ key? 

Me: “Oh, I see it. Is that the four squares key the lady talked about?” 

Supervisor: “Yes, sir. Now can you please press that key?”

Me: “Okay, it’s come up with a menu thing.”

Supervisor: “Okay, sir, please type in the search bar.” 

Me: *Interrupting* “What search bar?”

I have a customized menu because I work in IT and we’re awkward like that.

Supervisor: “Sir, what do you see on that menu?”

Me: “Umm, email, [Programming Tool], Chrome, uh… Excel.”

Supervisor: “Sir, can you hold down the Windows key and press R?”

Me: “Okay. Oh, something came up.”

Supervisor: “Sir, in that window can you type the following—”

Me: “Do you want me to type ‘eventvwr’ to bring up the event viewer console, or ‘cmd’ to do an ‘ipconfig /all’ to get my IP address?”

Supervisor: “What?”

Me: “Sorry, have to get back to work now. Try to find an honest way of living. By the way, I was a software engineer for IBM for fifteen years. Bye.”

I may have missed some rehashes of finding the key, but for twenty minutes they broke my boredom and weren’t suckering someone else. Plus, when I got back to work, the break let me realize I’d been looking at the problem wrong.

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