A Written Warning to Ron the Nefarious Telemarketer

3 Aug

I had a call from an Indian gentleman today. He asked to speak to Mrs. Gump. When I asked who was calling, he told me his name was Ron Pearson, which sounded a little unlikely to me. He went on to explain that he was calling from the “Computer Service Center,” at which point I interrupted him to point out that no he wasn’t, and that he was a liar.

If my response to Ron seems a little brusque, I should point out that I have had several calls from other Rons, and I am wise to their little game. Unfortunately, my mother, who is in her eighties, fell for their cunning plan, which goes as follows.

1. Get hold of a naïve interlocutor, who is not computer-savvy. Elderly women whose children bought them a computer are a prime target.

2. Inform them that a virus has been detected on their computer – but don’t panic, they are going to help them remove it.

3. Talk them through a few steps that will install malware on their computer in the guise of a “virus removal tool.”

4. After their computer becomes unusable, as a result of their malware, not the supposed “virus” they blame it on, charge them to activate the “virus removal tool, so that they can remove the virus.”

Now, perhaps, you can understand the brusqueness of my response to Ron. When the Rons target my mother, it becomes personal. And now they were after my wife. You can add sexism to the list of charges against the Rons. They assume that women are more likely to be daft enough to fall for their tricks.

Ron seemed a little taken aback by my calling him a liar, but only for a moment.

“Oh, so I’m a fucker, am I?” Ron must have been used to the occasional negative reaction to his approach.

I considered his question for a moment, before deciding his assessment was broadly accurate. He had said it better than I could have.

“Yes, as a matter of fact you are, Ron. You should be ashamed of yourself. Goodbye.”

I immediately regretted hanging up. The conversation could have been interesting. I also resolved that the next time a Ron called, I would go along with him, pretending to be following his directions to install malware on my computer, while in fact getting on with other things. That would keep him busy for twenty minutes, and perhaps save somebody’s granny a lot of heartache.

When I told my seventeen-year-old daughter about Ron, accompanying my story with a no-holds-barred assessment of the kind of chap who would prey on old women for a living, she immediately asked me to imagine myself in his situation. This might be the only job he could get to feed his family. What would I do in his place? This is typical of the kind of question young Miss Gump comes up with.

It’s an interesting question. I didn’t hesitate in my reply. What about you. What would you do?

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