Telephone_LinesI picked up our ringing landline this evening (something I almost never do) and one of those boiler room scammer guys with a singsong Indian accent was on the other end. Intrigued by his charming lilt, which was at odds with the urgency of his message, I let him give me the pitch.

“M’am. Windows Technical Support has detected a virus (one of the very worst kinds) in your operating system. Minute by minute it is corrupting your hard drive and getting worse! But not to worry. I can show you how to get rid of the problem.”

After about five minutes (yes, I let him talk for awhile), the conversation took such a ridiculous turn that I broke out laughing. How could I not? He was so earnest, but what he was saying was utterly absurd.

“M’am! Why are you laughing? You are a little bit of a skeptic, no? You think I am a scammer!? Do you? ‘M’am?”

“Um, yes. I am a little bit of a skeptic. Can’t help it. I was raised that way. And yes, I think you are a scammer,” I said through my laughter.


This comment gave the boiler room guy a case of the giggles. He tried to get back on track—but he knew the jig was up. He cited an impossibly long series of numbers: my “secret” Windows registration key to “prove” that he was legit.

“Sir, you are very good at what you do,” I said. “And by any chance, have you seen that movie Boiler Room? I actually know the guy who wrote it. Maybe when I write a screenplay, I’ll create a character based on you and our conversation this evening.”

He seemed intrigued at the idea of being in my screenplay. (Who says you can’t scam the scammer!?)

I wished him happy holidays and told him to keep at it. Sooner or later I felt confident someone would give him remote access to their computer and allow him to download the anti-virus software that he was peddling.

After the call I looked online. Yep. “Windows Technical Support Scam.” The guy I spoke with followed the pitch to the letter. But his nature got the better of him. I don’t think being a telemarketing con man is what the universe has in mind.

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