And to Think, We Could Have Been Talking About Hydrangeas

I sat down to write a post about hydrangeas and the way that flowers mean different things depending on the cultural lens that views them.

As it turns out, we’ll just be talking about stinkweeds.

In particular, a type of blooming stinker that’s growing Internationally, in the form of a new telephone scam. A cousin alerted me to this via e-mail after receiving one of the scammers’ calls this week. The caller identified himself as a representative of “Windows Operating System” calling to investigate a potential hacking of my cousin’s computer, which Windows discovered because the computer was being used to send viruses across the Internet.

“Which one?” my cousin asked, “The laptop or the desktop?”

After a brief pause, the representative said, “The laptop.”

All very well, except that said laptop does not exist outside my cousin’s imagination.

“Hmm, that’s bad. Can you tell me which I.P. address the computer was using to send the viruses out?”

“I’m afraid not,” Mr. Sincere Representative replied. “That’s confidential information under International law.”

The scammers then request remote access to the computer in order to “fix the problem” and/or credit card information to pay for “Windows upgrades” required to prevent future hacking of the machine. My cousin decided his fictitious laptop probably didn’t need any further assistance (it has the best imaginary virus protection software known to man) and proceeded to give Mr. Helpful Windows Scammer a taste of his own medicine by drawing the conversation out and then busting his chops when the wicked truth came to light.

(Note to the wise: my cousin is awesome. Note to scammers…after he’s done with you, I’ll make it public. You’ve been warned.)

Please don’t give your credit card information to random strangers who call you on the phone. Or come to your office. Or live in your house. (The last one may well be the most important. I’m just saying.)

And if someone claims to be calling directly from Microsoft, feel free to disregard. You’re more likely to get an unsolicited call from the plumber offering to replace your pipes for free.