Category: JollyRogerTelephone

Sorry I’ve been quiet – things are happening deep under water

The podcast is not dead! I’ll get another episode out soon. Likewise with more entertaining calls.

We are working on some exciting enhancements to the service and to the web site. I hate “talking” about it – I would rather just announce it when we’re done. I’ve worked for too many startups that endlessly talk about cool stuff and never deliver. So I’m waiting until it’s finished before I post/tweet/announce. It’s driving me crazy that I cannot tell you about it yet.

I do want to tell you that we’re working on two new features. And if you’re a subscriber to the Jolly Roger Telephone Service, you might be interested in:

  1. Enhanced whitelist/blacklists. We are a few days away from alpha-testing the ability to intercept or ignore numbers based upon patterns, rather than the entire number. For example, if you’d like to allow only areacode 312 and have bots intercept all others, we can do that. Or if you want bots to intercept 800 numbers, or if you get international calls and want bots to intercept all calls from a certain country code, we can do that too. For now, we have to do it for you, so feel free to send an email to and ask us about any special whitelist/blacklist requests. We will be providing a web interface soon for you to manage this yourself. But we would like to understand the kinds of filters that you’d like so let us know.
  2. Email suppression. Some of you have asked us to stop sending emails for certain types of calls. For example, if you have whitelisted a number, then we should stop sending emails when we see a call to that number. The reason we currently do this is because there’s no web interface. So if you break up with that boyfriend and want bots to intercept his calls from now on, you’d have to find an old email from Jolly Roger Telephone to blacklist him. But if you’d like, we can now suppress those emails. Just tell us the code (in parenthesis) at the end of the subject line and we can turn those off. This feature is available now. If you get a lot of calls, the Jolly Roger service can be kind of email-chatty. Sorry about that.

There are four of us watching the ticketing system now, so send us a note at and one of us will take care of you!

Thanks as always for sticking with us!


Robot exposes two layers of DME Medicare Fraud

This is a call between a Medicare scammer and a robot. Two robots, actually.

My apologies for the length of this call – it’s a little more than 20 minutes. The entire call is pretty funny, but if you want to just skip to the interesting parts, here is a summary:

At 5:30 – “Is this a robocall?” confused and finally gets sucked back in at 7:20

At 8:45 – Layer 1 of the fraud is exposed (offering a back support at no cost to you – “it is your right to receive it as being a medicare holder”)

At 14:45 – Layer 2 of the fraud is exposed (coaching us what to say to the DME Hotline agent, then doing a “cold transfer” to manipulate their statistics)

This call came to my elderly father and was intercepted by these Jolly Roger Bots. If you are caring for your elderly loved-ones, I highly recommend you subscribe to the Jolly Roger Telephone service so (1) your loved-one doesn’t get scammed, and (2) so the scammer wastes time with a bot and doesn’t have as much time to call the next victims.

This call is funny and entertaining, but like so many of these calls, this one is educational as well. Actually, I think the “DME Hotline” and Medicare would both be interested to hear about this scam. As with most Medicare scams, this company wants to “give” you a back or knee brace at no cost to you. Of course, Medicare will pay for it so it’s free, right? But this call gets very interesting once they qualify you as an elderly person with Medicare and a doctor willing to state that you need a back brace. The scammer then says he’s going to transfer us to a “Medicare Adviser”, but he tells us to tell them we are responding to the TV ad. This is very important to the agent. We must state that we are responding to their television advertisement or they will not help us.

So was the first telemarketing company hired by the producers of the Television advertisement? The TV station? Who else would benefit from this. The “Medicare Adviser” is the DME Hotline (Durable Medical Equipment Hotline). I don’t know if they have a reputation for scamming Medicare or not, but they are certainly getting scammed by an offshore call center pumping traffic into their hotline. And these scammers are trying to manipulate the response rate from the TV ad.

Meanwhile, the bots did a great job keeping four agents busy. For most of this call, we prevented these scammers from calling someone else. I don’t know if both sets of agents were scammers though. The second set was duped by the first set.

Again, this call is pretty long and you may not be interested in listening to the whole thing. Just listen as you do other stuff, or skip to the parts referenced at the top of this posting. If any of you have connections at the DME Hotline, they might be interested to know their TV ad response statistics are wrong. And I’m sure Medicare already knows about the other fraud.

Thanks again for listening everyone!

Rachel with Cardholder Services transfers a robot to a pervert

WARNING – this call is really nasty. For those of you familiar with Jolly Roger Telephone, you’ll probably find it very entertaining. But if this is new to you, you might want to check out my other calls first.

This is another “Rachel with Cardholder Services” call – you’ve probably heard her a million times and you typically hang up. But there are a lot of people who still fall for this scam and no matter how many time the FTC announces some kind of bust, breakup, lawsuit, or settlement, Rachel just keeps on calling. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the regulators can do to stop this. We need a pirate.

In this call, a Jolly Roger bot named “Debbie Doldrums” has intercepted the call. We hear the familiar “Rachel” greeting, which Debbie recognizes and she punches through to an agent. The agent spends a couple minutes trying to get some credit card info, but then gives up and engages in some really nasty banter with Debbie. Naturally, he thinks Debbie Doldrums is a real live American female and he decides to get raunchy with her.

Depending upon your point of view, this is either funny or horrifying. Either way, you hopefully see the potential in the way I am protecting consumers from unsolicited telemarketing. We cannot stop the bad guys from making these calls. But we can set up automation at the individual consumer side to intercept them. You can block telemarketers or just hang up, but that just moves the scammers downstream to someone else. If you engage the callers with a bot, it ties up their agents and they cannot scam the next person. So please help me spread the word! Subscribe to the Jolly Roger Telephone service – the typical subscription is the “Deep Six” for a year’s worth of service.

Anyway – thank you everyone who are following me on this incredible journey. I’m just a quiet and introverted telephone guy trying to protect the network (and all of you) from telemarketing. I could not be doing this without your support!

Thanks for listening, Roger

Credit Card scammer scolds a robot for a while, then calls back for more.

Hi all! Thanks again everyone for listening to these calls and being so polite and supportive of this service. I haven’t been announcing big things lately but that’s about to change. Exciting news is coming soon!

If I’m reaching anyone new with this post – I want to say that I fight telemarketing by building robots to talk with them. You can use these robots to protect your phones from telemarketing. Here is an example of what you get.

I have a great call for you here. First of all, I LOVE Salty Sally. She’s one of my best bots. She intercepted a credit card “we can lower your interest rate” scammer recently and he got quite upset.

Actually, there are a couple interesting things that we learn in this call. Between the hostility and profanity, we learn that he is actually confused as to why we would want to waste his time. He wonders why we simply don’t say we’re not interested and hang up. I think we can safely assume he is NOT in the United States, so I suppose he doesn’t realize that we (and our telephone network) are crushed under the burden of handling these calls. I also suspect that he thinks he’s working for a legitimate company offering a valuable service to those of us in the United States. This is why it’s so important to get the attention of the bosses, managers, and owners of these scammer companies. It does no good to yell at the telemarketers. And *our* time is way too valuable to spend yelling at them anyway. We need to send them to Jolly Roger bots, who will patiently chat with them but never divulge anything useful. Eventually I hope to break the business model of these scammers. And I really appreciate all of you helping with this.

So, getting back to this call, you’ll hear a very entertaining exchange with this telemarketer. And he gets so angry that he calls back three times (each call was very brief), but each time he gets Salty Sally and he eventually gives up. One more win for Salty Sally. And the Jolly Roger subscriber who was the target of this scam was protected.

So thanks again for listening to these calls. Please help me spread the word about this service. And most of all, thank you for listening!


Female Green Energy slammer gets abusive with a female bot

Hello all!

This call was entertaining because it was a “legitimate” telemarketer (i.e. it was a legal entity trying to take over as your energy supplier) from a professional-sounding woman. A Jolly Roger Telephone bot named “Salty Sally” intercepted the call and turned the tables on this company.

About halfway through, the telemarketer thinks Sally is messing with her and says some pretty abusive things. But then Salty Sally manages to calm her down again. It’s pretty funny. If you have not tried Jolly Roger Telephone, I cannot convey the feeling of satisfaction when YOUR telemarketer gets caught by a Jolly Roger bot. It’s one thing to listen to these calls from other people, but think about the times you or your loved ones get telemarketing calls. I’ve had many people say they look forward to telemarketing calls now. And I can really use your help to waste as much telemarketer time as possible. I’m trying to put a dent in their business practice.

Energy slammers like this one need to disappear. Heck, all unsolicited telemarketing should disappear. I love telecommunications and I want to protect the telephone network and your phone!

Thanks for listening!


Fake DirecTV agent wants to upgrade our equipment

Hello all! I’m back from an epic road trip through Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, the Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore! But I’m back and wanted to make sure I post another call before you all give up on me!

I found this call and thought it was kind of interesting. A “DirecTV” agent is calling all customers to upgrade their equipment free of charge. It starts out pretty legit and I can imagine plenty of people are fooled. Heck, for all I know, DirecTV really does outsource calls like this to offshore call centers.

I usually do not mention the company name, and I usually bleep it out before posting the recordings, but I would be interested in someone with DirecTV listening to this call. You can hear it start pretty legit, but it sure gets crazy. Either this is an outsourced DirecTV agent who can turn off the monitoring/recording feature of their phone, or this is a complete scam. Maybe someone familiar with this scam can post a comment?

I started all of this to protect your phone line, but I like to think that Jolly Roger Telephone is protecting the brands of these major companies too.

Anyway – please enjoy and thank you for listening!


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

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,



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 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 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 to let me know that it failed.

Thank you everyone! This is my biggest announcement yet!





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:

There were some re-prints in other places, but then here’s an original story on Q13 Fox in Washington!

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