The Daily Telegraph

Celia WALDEN

The perfect way to deal with cold callers

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“What kind of a cretin is ‘too polite’ to hang up on a cold-calling fraudster?” you may have asked yourself yesterday when you read about the UK Finance report findings in this paper which revealed that a whopping 92 per cent of us are too scared to slam the phone down on the criminal gangs targeting us at home. Well, this kind: me. At least, back in the day.

For years, I was one of the Brits who would politely go along with these infuriatin­g intrusions into my day (although I would stop short of transferri­ng thousands of pounds into criminals’ bank accounts). And not just here in the UK either, but at our home out in the US, where the cold calls were constant – until I was told about an ingenious chatbot devised by an American superhero named Roger Anderson.

He had become so incensed by telemarket­ers and scammers that he devised a cyborg with a convincing human voice which would put cold callers through their own special kind of hell. Built to understand speech patterns and inflection­s, the “Jolly Roger telephone” would throw callers off guard with increasing­ly bonkers pronouncem­ents ranging from “I just woke up from a nap and I’m really groggy” to the ever more eccentric “Do you drink coffee?” and “You sound like someone I went to school with”.

At the 10-minute mark, Roger was even programmed to announce that he had a bee on his arm. “Sorry – it’s literally crawling up my arm!” At that point even the most hardened phone fraudster couldn’t hang up fast enough.

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