A man named Roger Anderson runs a service called Jolly Roger, which aims to keep telemarketers or scammers on the line to frustrate them by wasting their time. He already has several thousand customers who pay him about $25 a year.

According to Anderson, his chatbots use a combination of preset expressions and topic-specific responses delivered through a voice cloner, so the TV marketer thinks he’s actually talking to a real person.

For example, a chatbot named “Whitey” Whitebeard received a call from a recorded female voice warning about a Bank of America account. When Whitebeard said something back, the telemarketer’s call was transferred to a real person trying to talk to the chatbot about credit card consolidation. It sounded like the caller was trying to get hold of financial information that could be used for identity theft.

When asked by the scammer how much Whitebeard owed on his credit cards, Whitebeard replied that he had “so many” and proceeded to describe them. “One has a picture of a kitten and the other has a beautiful picture of a beach. Do you like kittens or beaches?” replied the chatbot.

Source: The Wall Street Journal