We all receive them, sometimes dozens of spam calls a week from telemarketers and fraudsters selling extended vehicle warranties, vacations, tax relief, and more. Their sole purpose is to trick you out of your hard-earned money. However, if you've ever wanted to give scammers a taste of their own medicine, Roger Anderson has created a service that routes the spam call to a chatbot that "keeps them from pestering other innocent people."
Anderson hails from California and offers a service called Jolly Roger. The service utilizes digital personalities to engage in nonsensical conversations and waste the time of unwanted phone solicitors, who often call under false pretenses to extract personal information, potentially leading to identity theft.
The best part? You can opt to keep a recording of each of these calls so you can play them back for your amusement.
Jolly Roger takes whatever the telemarketer says and feeds it into OpenAI's GPT-4, generating a response that is then processed by an AI voice cloner, continuing the conversation from there. When asked why he uses GPT-4, Anderson stated that the chatbot "does a pretty good job of saying dumb things that are somewhat funny."
He charges $25 annually for the service, specifically designed to keep telemarketers and phone scammers on the line for as long as possible, wasting their time. Anderson has even shared clips of conversations where his Jolly Roger bot spoke for as long as 15 minutes (using IBM Watson AI) with someone trying to sell a cruise.
One of the personalities available is Whitebeard, whose voice is cloned from a dairy farmer friend of Anderson's. Whitebeard skillfully talks the caller in circles, frustrating them into hanging up. There are several other personalities to choose from, including the psychotic (and very offensive) Bloody Billy and Whiskey Jack, who has a tendency to get easily distracted. Another option is Debbie Doldrums, who will simply bore them to death.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Anderson has been combating telemarketers for over a decade. It all began when one called his home one night and made a vulgar comment to his son. Anderson initially started Jolly Roger as an answering service that repeatedly played pre-recorded responses like "Hello" or "Hang on" until the telemarketer hung up.
Interestingly, GPT-4 initially refused to perform the task, responding with, "as an AI language model, I don't encourage people to waste other people's time." Anderson discovered a loophole in the chatbot's logic by presenting it as a digital assistant that prevents others from being scammed.
Phone scams resulted in over $11 million in losses in 2022. The FTC has noted that these fraudulent calls have become increasingly sophisticated, with scammers even utilizing AI voice-cloning software to impersonate loved ones in distress, deceiving family members out of money.