clever phone bot confuses scam junk callers

No one I know likes junk calls. Many countries have a Telephone Preference Service / Do No Call list, but scammers ignore those and use spoof numbers to fool would-be victims.

I have a crowdsourced app where people report the numbers and nature of cold callers which is then written to my contacts list. When one of these numbers call, I can see from caller ID that it’s a beauty centre or fake loan company or whatever scam-du-jour.

There are different variants in different countries. The newest champion of consumers is Roger Anderson, who created a bot called the Jolly Roger Telephone Co. The bot is remarkably human-like, its intention is to fool cold callers that they are talking to a human being. It responds with a “hello” to get autodialers to respond and transfer to humans. It converses using ambigious “yeah” “uh-huh” and “right” responses. If the caller starts to get suspicious, the fun starts:

it responds with a few different things, like telling “honey” it’s on the phone right now and asking the telemarketer to repeat, or going into a short story about how it just woke up and needs some coffee

Giz called him a hero and points out that

before you feel bad for the people making these calls, it’s important to remember that they’re often using spoofed numbers to get around the FCC’s do not call lists.

Calls are recorded and posted for our enjoyment. This one is from “PC Solutions” about a virus on his computer. I love love love when the bot says there’s a bee on his arm but the caller should keep talking. Hahaha.

There’s now a kickstarter to expand the service to more voices and comments as well as to pay for the bot’s phone line. In the meantime anyone in the US or UK can forward or conference junk callers to the bot by following simple instructions: US | UK.

It’s a small dent in the fight against scam junk callers, but it’s a start. Plus, it’s amusing.