Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 10 January 2014
I got home last night, and H.I. told me that there had been a phone call from someone with a foreign accent, telling her that there was something wrong with her computer, and he could fix it for her.
A feeling of dread came over me when I asked if she had responded to the caller in any way. Luckily, I should have had more faith in her. She just told him to call back at 10.00 am this morning and speak to me about it.
I checked on the number, and it was 001234567890. Hmm.
The only reason that she gave him even this much of the time of day is because - as you may know - I recently installed Facetime on my Mac, and have been having some very one-sided conversations with Green-Eyes in London.
She calls me up, and I hear the ring tone come through the machine, but when I accept the incoming call, all I see is myself and all I hear is the staccato, fragmented sound which is obviously her laughing at me. No words can be made out.
I tried calling her back with the same result, then I called her brother - also with the same result.
I paid the Mac Shop 69p for this app, but the only back-up or support I can get from them to try and make it work is by going onto a forum, where all their unsatisfied customers get together to moan about the thing, which doesn't work for them either.
So I tried getting into the preferences section, only to find that I had forgotten the ridiculously long password they forced me to create, having written it down in shorthand. When I asked for a password reminder, it told me that it sent one to my email address, but I didn't find it until this morning because they sent it to a different email address than the one I had registered with them.
Tonight, I will try again and - more likely than not - go through the same humiliating experience of having an invisible, 19 year old girl laugh at me from 120 miles away, with no chance of redress on my part unless I pick up a phone and call her without being able to see her as she sees me. Bloody hell.
Of course, 001234567890 did not call back this morning, and this was because they were busy trying to rob someone else who was actually online at the time. Our machine was switched off.
The trick is that they call someone who they (somehow, but it's not difficult) know is online, then they tell them they have a problem. They ask the victim to perform a series of checks on their machine which will always come up with the same code number, no matter whose machine it is, then they try to get all sorts of other information like email address, etc.
They then remotely lock-up your computer - or, more precisely, get you to lock it up yourself - and ask you to hang up and try to make another call from your landline, knowing that the line is locked (actually, just engaged) and you will believe that there really is a fault on it.
They call you back a few minutes later, asking if - for a fee of £50 or whatever - you would like them to fix the problem for you. The least they get is the £50, but they also get your card details, which could be useful in the future - the very near future.
If this ever happens to you and you get as far as not being able to call out from your landline, just leave it for a quarter of an hour, and they will get bored and move onto their next victim, automatically unlocking your phone in the process.
Most young people don't have land-lines these days, so the hoaxers know that - more often than not - their targets are likely to be quite old and, as such, not quite as clued up on technology as their children or grandchildren might be.
I wish you could have heard the fragmented, robotic laughter of the invisible Green-Eyes last night. I am still waiting for a virtual tour of her flat as she walks about it with her iPad, pointing at various walls and cupboards as I sit here in Bath telling her how much I like it.
And I thought Macs were idiot-proof.
(Just as I finished writing the above, the phone went, and a helpful Indian gentleman was on the other end. Guess what? I have a problem with my computer which I don't even know about, but he will help me to fix! He began by asking, "Is that Mr Shaw?" If I had answered, "No, it's Mr Stephenson", then that would be step one - he would have immediately got my correct name. I kept calling him a criminal, and he eventually went away).