They See Me Trollin'

Triumphs in Trolling: Scammer Gets Punked by a Tech-Savvy Mark

Excuse him while he boots up Mosaic.
 Triumphs in Trolling: Scammer Gets Punked by a Tech Savvy Mark

Internet edition. (Photo: MTV)

In recent days the FTC has announced a crackdown on a particularly pernicious type of scheme: Scammers who call you up, out of the blue, purporting to be from “Windows Technical Support.” They tell you your computer is lousy with viruses, talk you into giving them remote access, then charge you hundreds of dollars to “fix” it.

If you’re computer savvy enough to be reading this blog, you’d probably see right through this nonsense, but you’re not the target audience for this scam–it’s your unsuspecting, eBay-loving Nana.

Every now and then, though, they call up someone who’s a little more cognizant of how security works. For example, last week Ars Technica editor Nate Anderson got a call from one would-be scammer and played him for a solid 15 minutes. But Mr. Anderson lacks the true soul of a troll. It was up to an anonymous technophile who calls himself ”Ted” to go all out, keeping his scammer on the phone for two hours. The last 43 minutes of their little chat are now available on SoundCloud.

As Ars reports, in the course of their discussion, Ted drags his feet with excuses about difficulties involving his Windows 95 PC, his CompuServe account, his AOL account, and his Mosaic browser. (“That’s a web browser, right?” replies the increasingly frustrated “tech support” guy.) Every now and then, Ted pretends to have problems with his Internet connection, playing and replaying the sound of a modem dialing up and, at one point, blaming the cat for knocking the cords out of the wall.

All the while, he assures the caller that he’s taking this very seriously:

“I want this machine to be secured, for sure,” he said. “And I don’t want my machine being dangerous, for sure, I mean that would be bad, that would be very bad, I don’t want it to be bad, I want it to be good. I’m a responsible Internet user, I don’t want to be some of these hacker types that infect the Web and stuff like that.”

Imagine that said in a sort of anxious, existentially distraught Woody Allen whine.

It’s very amusing, but we hate to think what happens when Ted uses his powers of trolling for mischief, rather than for spamming the scammers.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com