There’s a very old joke which goes like this:
An English professor is enjoying extracurricular jollies with the wife of a colleague. He is atop the lady when her husband enters the room.
“I’m surprised,” exclaims the husband. “No, sir. I’m surprised. You are astonished,” says the professor.
Well, I’m both surprised and astonished at a scam that has been perpetrated in Ireland. Firstly, I’m surprised that anyone attempted this con because no sane criminal could possibly believe it would work. If someone came to me and said, “Hey Mark, I’ve had a brilliant idea for conning suckers out of their money. We take the Dublin phone book, right? Then we ring people up at random and say we’re from Microsoft and we have detected there’s something wrong with their computers. We tell them we can fix it online, but they must pay for a service contract. We get their credit card details and debit them say €100 or €200 and we don’t do a thing to their computers.”
“What do we say when they ask exactly what’s wrong with their computers?”
“We just make something up. Say their analogue navel rectifier’s got an exploit. Nobody who uses Windows knows anything about computers, anyway. If they sound really suspicious we just go into the wrong number routine.”
“Nah. Forget it. Nobody could be stupid enough to fall for something that obvious.”
But fall for it they did. In their droves. This is where the astonishment comes in. There are people who dress themselves in the morning and walk amongst us on their hind legs who are so stupid they would give out their credit card details over the telephone to strangers. A lot of them don’t even realise that they have been conned: they think there was an actual problem with their computers that the helpful folk at Microsoft have fixed for them.
Microsoft Ireland pay a person to be their ‘customer experience manager’. I would rather have the job of licking the mall toilets clean with my own tongue after a hot dog eating contest than fill that role, but it is filled by one Mary Ashe Winton, who has this to say:
Anyone who receives an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft should hang up. We do not make these type of calls, offering a technical support package.
Quite right, Mary. I hope Microsoft pay you top dollar in exchange for your rare gift of common sense.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License