People Hire Phone Bots to Torture Telemarketers

AI software and voice cloners simulate distracted saps willing to stay on the phone forever—or until callers finally give up

“Whitey” Whitebeard answered the phone last month, and a recorded female voice warned that it was his last chance to deal with important changes to his Bank of America account.

“Hello. Talk to me,” Whitebeard said in the gruff voice of an annoyed senior. Within seconds, the call was transferred to Kevin, a real person. “Thank you for calling card services,” Kevin said. “How are you doing today?”

“Huh,” Whitebeard answered, now sounding a little befuddled.

‘Hello? Hello?’

“What do you think, how much owed on your credit cards, collectively,” Kevin asked.

Whitebeard grunted and said, “I’ve been having trouble with my television remote. Can you help me figure out how to change the channel to watch my favorite show?”

Whitebeard has a bad habit of talking in circles. That is by design. Whitebeard is a digital contraption that only sounds human. He is the creation of Roger Anderson, a real-life 54-year-old in Monrovia, Calif., who employs chatbots and AI to frustrate and waste the time of telemarketers and scammers…

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