In the June 19th issue of Town & Village, a Stuyvesant Town resident, wanting to warn neighbors, shared her story about being called by a scammer pretending to be from Microsoft who claimed to need to fix her computer. In this column, the author writes about a similar experience he had and how he dealt with the situation.
By Rob Engelhardt
I picked up my phone and heard, “Hello, I’m calling you from the Windows service department. I’m receiving error messages from your computer.” Meanwhile, my computer is at home turned off. I get these calls twice a week sometimes. I’ve been getting them for months. So finally I decided I’m going to have some fun with these people.
The lady who called me with an Indian accent gave me her fake American name as Rachel. So I asked her if her life has really come to the point where she needs to do this. Had it become so bad that she has to work for this scam, because if it is that bad, then she has nothing more to live for.
What she should do is go to the top of the building where she is now, look out at the beautiful landscape, take a running leap off the top of the building and feel free as a bird as she plummets to the ground. This, I told her, “will probably be the best experience in your miserable life.”
She told me, “Sir, you cannot tell people to do this.”
I said, “When you call my cell phone in the middle of the workday, you have to listen to whatever I want to say.
“I think you should really consider this. Honestly, would your mother be proud of you? Do you think this is what she wanted when she rocked you as a baby? Someone who scams little old ladies out of their retirement funds? Working at McDonald’s would be better.”
Then she hung up on me.
My goal is to get them to hang up.
I also get calls about how – and this is from filing for job applications online – “We heard you want to further your education” and somehow it got changed into “We heard you want to go to school for nursing.”
So this one guy calls me up. “Now is the time to return to school to pursue your dreams.”
I said, “I don’t think I can do it. But there’s something about you. I’ve never had these feelings for another man before. I think if we band together I can make it through. If I moved in with you, I’ll go back to the school. I’ll pay the bills again.”
He says, “We’re not allowed to give out our personal information.” I tell him, “Are you telling me we can’t do this? That my dream of nursing is now over? I need you.” Then I go further. “Let’s go to dinner and see if this goes anywhere. There’s chemistry I don’t want to give up on. Please.”
I think he hung up on me. (It was a couple of months ago.) He wouldn’t give me his cell phone number so I could call him.
Engelhardt is an electrical apprentice who has also gotten a free Ninja blender by knowing the right way to complain on the phone.