I avoided a scam today!

Every once in a while, our office gets these calls from people who need just a little more information so they can send us that copier toner we ordered. Thing is, we didn’t order any toner, but these callers sound so convincing that it’s hard not to just go along. After all, they only need a name, or a number, or some bit of confirmation. I got a call yesterday from one that told me our rates were going to change, but they were going to send us one more toner at the old price. I nearly fell for it because she knew my name and the kind of copier we had, but I asked her to call back later, and in the meantime I checked out the price we are currently paying for toner and it didn’t match up.

I had a different caller today. This one needed the serial number from our fax machine.

Me: Why do you need that?

Liar: Well, we just wanted to confirm that you’re getting the right toner for that machine.

Me: We didn’t order any toner.

Liar: Oh, I know, but it’s for someone else in your department who’s using the same kind of machine.

Me: Hmm. Well, why don’t you give me your phone number and–

Liar: click <dial tone>
Ha! A small victory, but it felt good. I read a book not too long ago that is making me a little more wary about giving out any kind of information over the phone to people I don’t know: The art of deception: controlling the human element of security, by Kevin Mitnick. It’s pretty interesting what people can do after getting some small piece of information and using it later on to make themselves sound legitimate.

I like to mess with these people. I got screwed by falling for one of the toner scams many, many years ago. So now, when they call for the copier model number, I have a variety of ways in which I deal with them. I’ve been known to put them on hold until they hang up, or make them hold for a minute, then repeatedly transfer them to other departments (which are all just me using a different voice, naturally.) But my favorite is to answer them. It usually goes like this:

Scammer: Hi, I just need to confirm the model number on your copier.
Me: Okay … Three.
Scammer: Three? Are you sure Three is the only number on there?
Me: Yeah … it’s a really old copier.

I’ve been known to tell them we have a Babylon 5, an Enterprise 1701, a Diablo 666, a Clockwork 655321, and even a Valjean 24601. Every now and then, one of them will laugh before they hang up.

I tell them they have to call back and speak to Mr. Meoff. First name Jack.

I’ve actually had call backs asking to speak to the gentleman in question, whereupon I do my hysterical obscene phone caller bit.

We don’t get those calls much anymore.

Congrats. They hate it when you ask questions.

For instance, a few days ago, I got a call from someone calling to raise money for a police association of some sort. I had heard of such scams (usually, the police are approached by these fundraisers, who give them a few thousand out of the hundreds of thousands they raise), so I began asking questions:

Me: Are you a policeman?
Caller: Uh. . . no.
Me: How much of the money donated goes to police?
Caller: Uh, . . . it’s a statewide campaign to raise money.
Me: I understand that. But how much of the money donated goes to the police?
Caller: Uh, . . . I don’t have that information.
Me: Well, I’d really like to know that.
Caller (desperately reading his script for something to say): It is a statewide campaign to raise money.
Me: I understand that. But I want to know how much of the money you raise goes to the police. If I give you a dollar, how much of that does the police get?
Caller: I don’t know.
Me: Is there anyone there who can give me that information?
Caller: Uh, . . . my supervisor.
Me: Great. Can I talk to him?
Caller: Uh . . . <click>

I find the first thing to do with a phone solicitor is to get them off script. I’ll ask questions like, “Where are you calling from?” and “Really? How’s the weather there?” and other irrelevant questions that aren’t written down in front of them. It really throws them off their stride. They have to be polite, but they don’t know how to go back to the spiel.

My best, though, was when someone called from “The Albany Association for the Blind.” (NB, the local organization is called the National Association for the Blind at Albany; they had their own building.)

Me: Really? Where are you located?
Caller: What?
Me: Where are you located? Where do you have your offices?
Caller: Uh . . . at the Albany Library.
Me: The Albany Library doesn’t rent out space.
Caller: <click>

I don’t get it.

What sorts of wicked machinations are they planning once they get the serial number on your copier?

'Eh…it’s not like I copyrighted it or anything. :stuck_out_tongue:

They’ll send you toner cartridges at several times the regular price. The hope is that the invoice will be passed along, no one will take responsibility for making the order, and the payment will simply be sent out by the corporate machine.

If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t still be doing it.

What, no THX 1138 fax machine? They are very popular, I see them in the movies all the time.

Ahh, I knew I got it from somewhere. :smiley: What, you gonna shake a fish at me? Bring it, Cupcake Boy.

My friend at work is the receptionist. We were talking about how she should tell the next toner-scammer that we don’t make copies. We have scribes who transcribe all documents by hand just like the Gutenberg bible!

But then we never got the chance because they never called again. We were bummed.

Aw, fuck me. NOT the Gutenberg bible… No more posting in a hurry. Although I’m finding this misspeak really farkin’ hilarious right now and am giggling at my desk.

I fell for a copy paper price increase scam years ago. It still shames me.

I sorta redeemed myself with one of my managers, who had gotten a bill (over $1,000) for ad space in a magazine, supposedly authorized by a former manager.

He figured that because the magazine existed, it couldn’t be a scam. He was afraid we’d be sued if we didn’t pay. I managed to convince him otherwise.

I once worked at a very small company answering phones and we would get the toner calls constantly. Like, three times a day. Usually I just said “no thanks” and hung up. One day, though, I had finally had enough:

Me: Hello, XXX Company, may I help you?

Liar: Yes, I’m from YYY Company, I need your copier number to complete your toner order.

Me: I don’t think so.

Liar: I’m sorry?

Me: I think you’re lying.

Liar: No, I’m not, if you can just give me your copier number–

Me: We didn’t order any from you. I think you’re lying.

Liar: (getting testy) It must have been someone else in your company, that happens all the time–

Me: (to the room) Anybody order toner from YYY?
(to the liar) None of the other four people who work for this company ordered from you. I think you’re lying.

Liar: I’m not lying and I can prove it. I’ll send you free toner if you just give me the copier number.

Me: No.

Liar: You don’t want free toner?

Me: It’s not free, you want to scam me and you’re lying.

Liar: (skeptically) You’re telling me you don’t want free toner? What does your boss think about that?

Me: He probably thinks you’re lying, too.


Me: Does your mother know you lie for a living?

Liar: (obscenities, hangs up)
The calls stopped.

Is that the one where they get you to tape a check to your door? I fell for that once, I’m ashamed to say.

If you’re sure you can intercept the invoice, I’d go right ahead and tell them.

According to the ftc (I’ll assume you’re under their jurusdiction) you can keep the toner/paper/whatever and tell them to shove their invoices up their… photocopier.

Then you should tell them to call back and ask for Mr. Bartleby in the Scriveners Department. You would take a message for him, but Mr. Bartleby prefers not to call people back.

Wow, having never worked in an office environment, I had no idea this was such a common thing.

Life must be really tough for the honest copier toner salesmen out there…

Not really. Most people swing by Office Depot or call the company that supplied the copy machine to get toner.

I’d never heard of such a thing until my last job. We had a barter arrangement for our fax and copy machine in exchange for televison advertising, so I couldn’t understand why someone was trying to sell us toner. I said as much and then click. One of our salespeople clued me in.

I don’t get these calls anymore, but if I did, this would be my reply.

This is a beautiful delurking!

Hmmm… hamster ate my post, I’ll try again…

What is this scam? I don’t get what the scammers are trying to achieve or where the money incentive would be :confused:

So scammer calls me:

Scammer: What’s your copier number
Me: Ummm, Canon XL43
Scammer: Mwuuuhahahaha! Do you want free toner?
Me: Sure.
Scammer: Mwuuuhahahahah!!! I will swallow your soul!
Me: Great, that too. Wait, you sound more like our Xerox rep, not our Canon rep…

So what’s the scam? I’m not obligated to anything, do these guys just spam our AP dept with invoices hoping to get paid without anyone questioning? If so, why even make the phone call?

Help me out here, why can I understand The Usual Suspects just fine but can’t see what this is about :confused: