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Jolly Roger featured on the Tom Woods show!

I did an interview with Tom Woods recently and didn’t realize that he was going to devote an entire podcast to Jolly Roger Telephone! I’m so flattered. That was a really fun interview. You can listen to the show at http://tomwoods.com/ep-937-how-to-deal-with-annoyingscammer-telemarketers-sic-these-hilarious-bots-on-them/

Thank you for listening and to help spread the word, everyone! How did Tom Woods hear about me? One of YOU sent him the Business Insider article! Thank you for helping to get the word out that there is an entertaining, fun, and EFFECTIVE way to deal with telemarketers now. I really appreciate it and, as always, I’m really flattered that you are all helping me with this effort.

A heartfelt thanks,

Roger

 


Podcast episode 16 has been posted!

After a long delay I have recorded episode 16 of the Jolly Roger Telephone podcast. In this episode I discuss “ringless voicemail” and the “Can you hear me now?” scam that have both been circulating around the internet for a few weeks. I share three fantastic (and extremely vulgar) calls with you. If you don’t have time to listen, here’s what I basically think about these two issues:

Ringless Voicemail:

Somehow this turned into a partisan issue. I guess someone at the Republican National Committee supported a proposal to the FCC and now the headlines are saying it’s a Republican idea. But it’s just a proposal by various trade organizations to get around the “opt in” nature of telemarketing calls to your mobile. I cannot imagine this will ever be approved, but if it is, we will all just sign up for a voicemail transcription service and these messages will be filtered by a junk mail algorithm. Or we all just shut off our voicemail. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

“Oh my headset slipped. Can you hear me now?”

The headlines say “Don’t say yes! They can use your recording to force you to pay later!” This is another issue that surprises me. Even the FTC and BBB tell you not to engage. There’s a great article from the Archer Security Group at http://www.archersecuritygroup.com/robocallers-pretend-real/ that discusses this. Kerry Tomlinson traced it back to the source and it seems pretty benign. A scammer threatened to take a business to court because they supposedly had a recording of him agreeing to purchase the services. I’m sure if the business had pushed, it would have fallen apart in court. But rather than deal with it, they just paid. Have any of you heard of a telemarketer successfully suing anyone because of a doctored recording? Yeah, me neither. And I don’t think we ever will. There are hundreds of recordings of me saying ‘yes’ on YouTube. Snip one of those and bring it on, telemarketers!

Anyway, here’s the podcast. There are three calls in here, and two of them are extremely raunchy so you have been warned.

Thanks for listening!

 


Call for beta testers! New service to AUTOMATICALLY protect mobile phones!

I’m SO EXCITED to announce a new service from Jolly Roger Telephone that will AUTOMATICALLY protect your mobile phones! I’m calling it Pirate Voicemail for now.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Do I have to mention that messaging and voice rates may apply? Your mobile carrier will probably charge you for the call to 206-259-4950. If you do not have a plan with unlimited minutes, then do not use this service! Also, Pirate Voicemail will send you a text when it gets a real person, so don’t use it if you have to pay for messages!

The instructions below will tell you how to use this service. This is brand new and probably for the hard-core shakedown crew only. If you want to be on my shake-down crew, I’d love some help testing this. But please read all of this, especially the disclaimer at the bottom!

This is how it works:

Pirate Voicemail REPLACES your current mobile phone’s voicemail. So this gets tricky and it’s important you understand how it works. To activate it, you type in a code in your phone (I can support AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and all MVNOs using those services. Is there anyone else?) The code will set your phone to forward to 206-259-4950 if you don’t answer or if you reject a caller. So when you don’t answer your phone or don’t recognize the caller, the call will come to me. This is where Jolly Roger Telephone takes over. This is how I will handle the call:

  1. If it’s a telemarketer (according to my lookup with trueCNAM), I will answer with a bot (and send you the recording of course)
  2. If I don’t know if it’s a telemarketer, I will answer with a pleasant greeting asking the caller to prove they are human by pressing 1. If they don’t press 1, they are encouraged to leave a message.
  3. If they do press 1, then I will text you to let you know that caller was human. At the same time, I’ll tell that person I texted you, and ask them to call back, and you might answer the second time. They can leave a message here too. Once a caller proves they are human, I never challenge them again – future calls are simply sent to a voicemail greeting.
  4. Each caller will be challenged THREE TIMES (and warned). After three unresponsive calls, I will answer with a robot from then on.
  5. Note: Anonymous callers will always be challenged. When they press 1, you’ll get a text so you’ll know to answer when they call right back.

Please note that all telemarketers use predictive dialers (these are the machines that try to detect if you are a human). All predictive dialers will stop at step 2 because they think they have reached an answering machine. Almost all predictive dialers will throw your number back into the queue and will eventually call you back. They cannot help it, and they cannot ever stop. So eventually they will trigger step 4 and will get a Jolly Roger Bot, which will then engage the telemarketer and it will be extremely entertaining for you.

After EVERY call, you’ll get an email to tell you what the caller did or didn’t do. More importantly, there will be links so you can tell me what to do the next time that caller calls.

So next time you get a call from an unrecognized number, you can ignore/reject it and Jolly Roger will *professionally* handle your legitimate callers, or *unprofessionally* handle your telemarketers. It should work well for you small-business owners who get tons of calls on your mobile phones.

 

Disclaimers, etc.

This is new. Naturally, I try to write bug-free code. I’m pretty confident that I will not deliver your voicemail to the wrong place. I’ve handled over 400,000 calls so far and never mis-delivered a recording. And I’m pretty confident that I won’t answer with a bot when it’s not appropriate. My vendor, trueCNAM is really good about being cautious about their scores. But there may be various problems with the emails. You would be surprised how complicated this got. There are 25 possible “states” for the caller and I had to craft an email for each one. My servers could crash. Godaddy might flag me as a spammer. My telephone carrier may think I’m a text spammer and block my texts. The texting thing could get really expensive. Hopefully your $6/year will cover it.

No more “visual voicemail” from your carrier. I just email the recordings of your voicemail. Maybe someone wants to help me with a smartphone app that will provide a visual voicemail interface. Or perhaps someone can turn me on to a voicemail transcription service? Cheap.

Your voicemails will be emailed to you un-encrypted over the internet. If you get confidential or urgent messages, then please do not use this yet. If you listen to the voicemail greeting, you’ll hear me tell the caller that I’m just going to deliver via email. Maybe this isn’t a big deal. There are TONS of voicemail systems that do the same thing and none of those make it obvious.

This service is perfect for the young kids or elderly who don’t really use voicemail. If you are the parent of tweens or the children of the elderly, then you can get these emails sent to you. My kids have never bothered to record a voicemail greeting, so this is perfect for them. And the elderly get tons of medicare scammers calling, so you’ll hear these scammers speaking with bots that they think are your parents.

Potential Enhancements

I’m working on a way to provide a VCARD (emailed and texted) so you can accept a pre-built contact for known humans. Some of you will probably want to record your own voicemail greeting too. But there are several recordings to deal with so that will get complicated too. Bulk whitelisting is another. And after a while you’ll probably want to see your whitelist and blacklist so I need a way to provide that too. Once we all use this for a while, we’ll come up with our own wish list. Please send that to me.

This service is available to ALL active Jolly Roger subscribers – Deep Six, Cannon Shot, and Summon a Pirate. I hope that it will replace Summon a Pirate and I’ll convert everyone over to Deep Six. This is probably NOT for the Google Voice users out there. I’m pretty happy with my existing Google Voice product.

If you are a subscriber of Jolly Roger Telephone, you should be able to use this. If you have any problems, please email me at support@jollyrogertelephone.com. That will generate a ticket so I won’t forget to handle it. If you don’t like it, feel free to tell me why. I can probably fix it, but there are limits to the integration with mobile phones.

Ready to try it?

Here are the codes to activate/deactivate the Pirate Voicemail on your mobile phone:

  • If you have AT&T, TMobile, or use an MVNO of these, dial **004*12062594950# to enable it. Dial ##004# to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
  • If you have Verizon or an MVNO of Verizon, dial *712062594950 to enable it. Dial *73 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
  • If you have Sprint or an MVNO of Sprint, dial *282062594950 to enable it. Dial *38 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
  • If you have Cricket, I think you dial *742062594950 to enable it. Dial *740 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail. Maybe a Cricket user can verify this for me?

Immediately after enabling it, please call your mobile from a different phone and let the call last at least 6 seconds. When the call is over, you should get an email from me describing what I saw. If you do NOT get the email, then cancel this service and contact me at support@jollyrogertelephone.com to let me know that it failed.

Thank you everyone! This is my biggest announcement yet!

Roger

 

 

 


Jolly Roger in the New York Times! And other news…

I posted this a couple days ago to Facebook, but not everyone reads Facebook (which I totally get). So I’m finally posting this here. Jolly Roger Telephone was mentioned in a New York Times article about robocalls to mobile phones. I was mentioned alongside some big players in the industry, so I’m totally blown away. I’m gaining street cred! Someday I hope to get the attention of Apple, Google, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint because I really want to be able to protect mobile phones! Mobile carriers still do not offer this feature. Some clever (and well-financed) app developers have done some crazy workarounds to block your telemarketers, but none are redirecting calls yet. All it takes is “simultaneous ring” from mobiles and I can do it! Anyone know anyone who knows anyone at any of the mobile carriers?

Anyway, the NY Times article is here: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/smarter-living/stop-robocalls.html

There were some re-prints in other places, but then here’s an original story on Q13 Fox in Washington! http://q13fox.com/2017/05/11/robocalls-are-increasing-so-here-is-how-you-fight-back/

Anyway – thanks everyone for your support, interest, and kind words!

Roger

 


Travel Scammer Telemarketer threatens to send a robot to collections

Here’s an interesting scam. A travel telemarketer tells us that we have already put $698 down on a vacation, and there’s another $698 due. If we don’t pay, then they’ll send us to collections and we’ll still have to pay the $698, but we’ll forfeit the vacation. So they’re going to let us pay off the balance and keep the vacation. Isn’t that nice of them?

Actually, as I edit it and listen again, it gets very confusing. I think the scam just evolves based upon the victim’s responses. This call went to a robot named Salty Sally and she was friendly and agreeable, but didn’t really respond to the scam as expected so the telemarketer gets a little frustrated and gives up. There’s no swearing or abuse, but it’s entertaining and this “flavor” of scam was new to me so I wanted to share it with you.

Now, if you get telemarketer calls like this one, imagine how satisfying it is to waste thirteen minutes of their time with no effort on your part. All you have to do it conference in a Jolly Roger bot and mute yourself. One of my friendly robots will take over the conversation and you can go about your business. Please see jollyrogertelephone.com for details on how you can use this service to automatically intercept your telemarketers.

And thanks for listening


Roger in In Touch Weekly Magazine!

I’m so thrilled and flattered to be featured in this week’s “real life” section of In Touch Weekly Magazine!

This reporter, Jaclyn Roth, was one of the nicest people you can imagine. She asked some great questions and was very patient with me as I talked about telecommunications and my bots. I love telephones and, in case you’re new to my blog, I made these robots out of love for the telecom network. I just want you to love your phone as much as I do, and telemarketers are the biggest reason people hate their phones right now.

Jaclyn wrote this great article and sent it to me. She gave me permission to post it on my blog (as of now, it’s not online at InTouchWeekly.com).

You can click here for the PDF of the story. Or click the image below for high-resolution.

I’m going to post the text of the article here so the search bots will index it.

We’ve all been through the same infuriating experience. The phone rings, so you drop whatever you’re doing to answer it. But the voice that greets you doesn’t belong to a friend or family member. It’s a telemarketer trying to sell you a service you don’t need or — worse — scam you out of your hard-earned money. Cue the steam pouring out of your ears.

But a mild-mannered telecom consultant named Roger Anderson is leading a one-man crusade to rescue us. His method of doling out vigilante justice? He’s designed a team of computerized robots that are programmed to trick telemarketers and phone scammers into believing they have a live human on the other end of the line. The bots waste the telemarketers’ time and, ultimately, scare them off that telephone number for good. “Telemarketers are blanketing the country with fraudulent calls,” says Roger, 47, who lives with his wife and four kids in the LA area. “My goal is to disrupt the industry as much as possible.”

His inspiration came a couple years back, after a telemarketer swore at his then-14-year-old son. “We’d get about five to 10 calls a day,” he says. “I was never worried about getting scammed because I don’t buy anything over the phone, but it felt like such an invasion of privacy.” Having worked in the telephone business for more than 25 years, “I thought to myself, ‘I’m a phone guy, I should be able to fix this,’” Roger recalls. “So I started building this robot.”

At first, it was just a hobby. Roger set up the program to intercept calls to his home. But after posting some of the funnier exchanges on YouTube and receiving positive feedback, he officially started the Jolly Roger Telephone Company. He began creating more bots that could convincingly pass as real people. “My favorite robot personality is ‘Kim the Kraken,’” says Roger, who originally voiced the bots but now gets help from his wife, friends, other family members and volunteers. His character Kim the Kraken is “recovering from pneumonia, so she coughs and says things like, ‘I’m really sorry, my phone slipped and you are going to have to repeat that.’ She can keep telemarketers on the phone for 10 to 20 minutes.” While it may sound like a minor victory to tie up just one agent, telemarketers are usually auto-dialing up to 30 people at once, “so it prevents potentially hundreds of phone calls from being made,” Roger explains.

So far, Jolly Roger’s robot army has fielded around 300,000 unwanted calls. A subscription to the service costs $6 per year (jollyrogertelco.com). When cellphone users get an unwanted call, they can conference in the bots, who then take over. Landline calls can be linked up so Jolly Roger will answer when it recognizes a telemarketer’s number. Once the telemarketers realize they’ve been fooled, “It’s in their best interest to stop calling you,” says Roger. In an ironic twist, many clients have come to welcome the calls they formerly dreaded, relishing the chance to eavesdrop on the exchanges. “When a telemarketer loses their cool talking to a robot, it’s just so satisfying. All of your years of frustration get vented,” says Roger. “Plus, it’s hilarious.”

— Reporting by Jaclyn Roth


Las Vegas vacation scammer wants to kill my puppy!

Do you get the “free vacation” telemarketer calls? These scams come in many flavors. It could be a high-pressure timeshare pitch, or maybe they tell you that they’re giving you a vacation so you’ll tell your friends and family about it and THEY will pay for their own. But I think we can all agree that the “free vacation” is a scam, right?

Anyway, this guy is calling to give us a free vacation in Las Vegas. He drops a couple resort names to keep us interested, but I doubt that he’s actually connected with them (I sure hope not!) so I bleeped them out.

He was talking to a female robot named “Jolly Jenny”. After a few minutes, he just wasn’t getting the expected responses from her, so he says a couple mildly shocking things, and when she doesn’t react to that, he says something even more shocking. And then he gets intimidating. If you love puppies, you’ll hate this guy!

These guys are invulnerable, invincible, and untraceable. They are clearly not “monitored or recorded for quality purposes” and they know they can say whatever they want. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Until now. Please do your part – subscribe to the Jolly Roger Telephone service so you can send your telemarketers to robots. This will delay the call to the next person on their list, and maybe it will prevent one scam for the day. It’s your civic duty to waste their time, but your time is too valuable. Let a Jolly Roger bot handle it.

Thanks for listening!

Roger


Roger is speaking at the ASCII IT Success Summit today (March 29th, 2017)

I am so flattered to have been invited to speak at the ASCII Success Summit in Anaheim, CA today! This is a thrill because this Jolly Roger Telephone service is SO GOOFY that it’s great to see it starting to become a mainstream and completely valid solution to telecommunications fraud.

Speaking of goofy, I also learned that I would get a table all day! So my wife, partner, and I put this together:

So there are a couple rotary phones, and the treasure chest contains a Raspberry Pi and analog adapter. When you lift the handset of the rotary phone, you hear a random Jolly Roger recording. I even have some rotary-to-dtmf converters in the phones so when you dial the keypad, it starts a new recording.

Those are chocolate coins. And that’s a little “bilge box” for trash.

I asked my wife to help me make a little one-pager to encourage people to lift the handset to listen to recordings, and also to attend my speech today. So she did. And then she

  • Crumpled it
  • Coffee-stained it
  • Baked it
  • Burned it

And now it looks like this:

She even made a little “Ship’s Manifest” for the sign-up sheet in case anyone wanted to be added to my mailing list.

I am not typically this creative. My wife is amazing. I often joke with her that “Courier New is good enough” when we need to make a brochure. She will usually take it from there, and she sure did this time.

My speech is the last one today, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, it will not be recorded. But it’s very similar to my TEDx talk in Naperville last November.

Thanks as always, everyone! I owe all of you for the popularity of this service. Please help me spread the word so we can keep sucking up telemarketer time!

Roger

 


Back to Basics – Vacation scammer speaks with the original Jolly Roger bot

The core of the Jolly Roger Telephone service is wasting telemarketer time. I’ve had a lot of interesting calls, but this one demonstrates that the original bot is still going strong. For anyone new to Jolly Roger, I built this bot for my own line at home, and it took a couple years of tweaking to get it right (I could only test it on REAL telemarketers). When I posted the telephone number so everyone could use it, I got thousands of calls to it – I still haven’t listened to all of those calls from February 2016!

As a result, it’s the least interesting bot for me. I have some “new” bots that are more fun for me to review. But I wanted to play this call because I don’t want you to forget “there’s a bee on me”. This call demonstrates that it’s still funny.

In this call, we have a “free cruise” offer and he lists all kinds of great things. This agent probably believes he is giving away this vacation package, but a simple Google search is all it takes to see how popular this scam is. Fortunately, the subscribers to the Jolly Roger service are engaging bots to suck up some scammer time. This guy spent almost 8 minutes talking to a bot, and hopefully he didn’t have time to call you that day. Or your family.

Anyway, thanks for listening everyone! I’m looking forward to posting more fun, entertaining calls. They don’t all have to be educational or shocking. This one is just ear candy to any of you who get these calls every day.

Roger


Podcast episode 15 is online

Hi All,

Here is Episode 15 of the Jolly Roger Telephone podcast. I have SO MUCH to tell you! In this episode, I discuss the Windows Support scam, what I am trying to do about it, and some of the interesting legal and regulatory issues I’ll be dealing with. I play a couple clips from a Windows Support call. It’s good info, but not nearly as fun as some of my other podcasts. This is NOT the place to start if you’ve never heard one of my podcasts. You can just search your podcast app for “Jolly Roger Telephone” or click here for the SoundCloud link to all my podcasts.

Here is Episode 15: