A few weeks ago, while I was at my mother’s home, waiting for an ambulance to take her into hospital, the phone rang. I was expecting a situation update anyway, so I answered it very quickly. On the other end was a very cheerful gentleman – almost certainly from the Indian subcontinent – who was obviously sitting in a large room full of other busy callers. He told me his name was Ronald (is Ronald a common name in Kolkata?) and that he was calling from the Windows Help Team.
Normally I would just have put the phone down and practised my deep breathing for a few moments, but that was not a good day, so, Ronald, if you ever read this, I apologise for my language, and I sincerely hope you did not attempt to follow my instructions on what you could do with yourself. Nothing personal, mate.
I’ve become a bit detached from phone scammers now – I wouldn’t say I have forgotten them, but we now have a wonderful in-house phone system here which filters out and blocks problem calls so successfully that we have had none for many months – and it used to be a major issue for us, as featured in my previous rants on the subject (see here). At one time, things got so bad that I got a little obsessed with this evil industry, and I even managed to get hold of some names and (unbelievably) Facebook profiles for some of the individuals behind it. Not that I could (or would) do anything about it – just to have a look at the enemy.
|These call-centres are often more sophisticated than they sound, and employ good quality |
technology - there is a lot of money in this so-called industry
OK, Foy – so why have you dragged this old stuff out of the archives? Do you, perchance, have some kind of point to make?
Well, in fact, maybe I have. I am delighted to learn that the police in Thane, near Mumbai, the chief financial centre in India, have arrested a great many people who were involved in a phone scam which targeted individuals who were on lists of US tax defaulters – at its peak, this scam has been making $150,000 a day. The local police are now working with the FBI, we are told, to progress this through the courts.
This may be a false dawn, or a damp squib, or any kind of inappropriate metaphor you wish to suggest – it may come to nothing at all. On the other hand, the mere fact that the Indian police are prepared to get involved in this kind of initiative is a reason to be just a little hopeful – the general view in the past has been that the police and the telecom companies in India have been liberally bunged with backhanders to stop them interfering. A more active role would be a great start.
|Interesting press photo of a group arrested in India in connection with a different |
phone-based scam - seems to confirm my general feeling that you should never trust
people who wear rectangular eye-shades.
I promise I shall not get obsessed again, but I really do see this kind of scam activity as especially vicious and heartless, and any small steps towards stopping it are most welcome. Having some evidence that at least the Indian police now regard it as a crime is certainly very pleasing.
The BBC news story about this can be found here.
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