Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: How to scam a scammer

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There is something satisfying about putting your game face on and successfully scamming a scammer. Photo / Thinkstock
There is something satisfying about putting your game face on and successfully scamming a scammer. Photo / Thinkstock

A friend of mine was taken in by the cold calling computer scammer who telephoned to tell her there was a problem with her computer.

If you're not very tech savvy this message is sure to throw you into a spin and lower your defences as you ask for more information. If you're fairly new to this computing lark, you're probably inclined to rely on this person for assistance.

This, of course, is precisely the psychology that these scammers are exploiting.

"I just felt so grateful for his help," my friend said later when she'd cancelled her credit cards and generally tidied up in the aftermath of unwittingly providing her passwords and bank details to the con artists.

"And I felt so clever each time I managed to do whatever he asked me to do," she added, aware too late that by following his step-by-step instructions she was actually helping him gain remote access to her computer.

And at a dinner party I witnessed a near miss of a similar variety. Our hostess answered the telephone. "It's for you, darling," she said and promptly handed it to her husband. "There's something wrong with my computer?" he asked as he wandered into his study, presumably to switch on his laptop.

I pondered what to say as I sat on the sofa nibbling cashew nuts and sipping chardonnay. I wanted to follow him and stop him firing up his computer but I realised that would look a tad overdramatic.

So I said to my friend, the hostess, "Er, doesn't he know that's a scam to get your bank account details?" She seemed unconcerned and in the background I could hear her husband still engaging with the caller. I felt helpless to prevent certain disaster. Yet ultimately all was well. Our host extricated himself from the phone call without being scammed one iota.

I've been telephoned twice by these scammers and I have to admit I just panic when targeted by them. "Not interested, thanks," I say before immediately hanging up - as if merely staying on the line with them is potentially dangerous.

On both occasions, in the time it took for the receiver to travel from my ear to the handset, I heard these callers speaking very bossily to me.

Many people would find their aggressive tone intimidating. It's certainly not the smarmy, eager-to-please tone I would have expected from someone intent on swindling me.

I admire the people who have the presence of mind to string along the scammers who call, leading them to believe it's all going to plan then when asked for, say, a password they spell out an insult such as: Y-O-U-A-R-E-A-D-I-C-K-H-E-A-D.

There's something truly satisfying about the delicious symmetry of successfully scamming a scammer.

What's your view on cold calling computer scammers - and what's the best way of handling them? Have you ever been duped by one? Or have you ever played along with one just for fun?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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