She was from Microsoft, or so she said. The Windows Support Service. And my computer was reporting that there was something wrong.
"Oh dear," I said, "what should I do?"
"Is your computer switched on?" She asked. "No". "Switch it on then. " "It's upstairs."
And the game was on. We started off by playing "upstairs, downstairs." In this game, I'm pretending that my computer is upstairs, my phone is downstairs, and never the twain shall meet. Once she'd understood this, she asked her supervisor for advice - he told her to continue. So she gave me a whole list of instructions, which would have downloaded and installed Teamviewer, got an id and password, and give them control of my computer. I said I'd do that.
I let her wait for five minutes, then got back to her. "What do I do after I press the Windows key?"
She must have realised that I wasn't capable of following a whole list of instructions, so she dropped into step-by-step mode, as per her script. And each step took me five minutes, what with running upstairs to the computer and then downstairs to the phone. Eventually, we had Teamviewer installed and run, Well, not really. I was making all this up. But I do know what a Teamviewer ID and password looks like, it's nine digits and four digits. I gave her a made-up id and password, and she handed me over to a techie, Sam McKenzie.
Sam must have tried those, and found they didn't work. So his next plan was to send a techie to visit me, for the really amazingly low price of £20. You can't even get a plumber's assistant's assistant to come out for less than £100, so what a bargain. And he asked for my credit card number. "I usually pay by cheque"
He ignored that, and said "Visa or Mastercard?" and after a few more interchanges like this, I said "Sam, you're not listening. I don't have a credit card. Can I pay by Postal order or cheque?"
So he asked my address. He already knew my post code, so I told him that he had that wrong, and gave him the details of a recent spammer. Then he told me the address of a nearby Western Union outlet, "Global Home Service". And that I should send £120 to "Lalit Sharma, India". The £120 was because it was cash, but the technician, when he visited me, would refund the extra £100. I thought that was a nice detail.
So I phoned the nearby Western Union outlet, but no-one was there. And then I phoned Western Union and reported the fraud. They said they'd put a block on that name.
... later ...
Sam called me back. I told him that the phone number he gave me for the Western Union outlet, no-one answered. He said, "You dn't need to phone them, just go there." I explained, "There's no point in going there if there's no-one there," Eventually, he saw my point, and gave me another address, a few doors down from the forst one, and the phone number 0800 833 833. I happen to know (see above) that this isn't " Best End Quality Ltd", it's Western Union. But I didn't tell him that ... yet. He said he'd call me back in five monutes.
... later ...
Oops! He forgot to block his phone number. It's 001 630 582 0473 - I googled it, and it's a known scammer.
He called me back. I told him that the first office weren't answering the phone, maybe they're closed? He asked me what time it is there. Oops! I told him, same time as it is where you are, you said you're in the UK. Actually, he hadn't, but I didn't think he'd be keeping careful track of what lies he's told. And then I told him that the second phone number was Western Union head office.
He reassured me that they'd be open, and I didn't need to phone. I said I'd go there. He'll call me back in 30 minutes.