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AMEND CORNER: What’s in a name? Humor for one thing.

It’s no doubt impolite to laugh when a person gives you his name, but I did that just that during a phone call a few days ago.

It wasn’t that the name was strange or unusual, and it certainly didn’t sound funny. Rather, it was a plain old, and probably pretty common, American name: David Jones.

“What’s so funny about the name David Jones?” you might ask.

Well, nothing really. I’ve known three or four guys with that name, and I don’t remember any of them as particularly funny. It’s true that Davy Jones was one of The Monkees in a ’60s situation comedy on TV, but those guys were funny because of their haircuts, not their names.

There’s also a famous location associated with the name, but when sailors refer to Davy Jones’s Locker, they are talking about being lost at sea, which definitely isn’t funny.

Well, I didn’t laugh because the name was funny. I laughed because the guy who introduced himself to me as David Jones did so in a quite pronounced South Asian accent. The accent told me he was probably from India or Pakistan, where I would be rather surprised to find a native named David Jones.

By using a common American name, he was making a rather weak attempt to make me think I was talking to an American. In reality, it was a dead give-away that the call was a scam, an obvious attempt to bamboozle me into telling the guy how to get into my computer.

That struck me as funny, so I laughed.

You may have received similar calls; in fact, if you’re like me, you’ve received several. The voice on the phone always identifies himself as a representative of a security company, and he usually includes at least a reference to Microsoft or Windows. Then he goes on to tell me that my computer has been compromised.

Someone has gained access to my computer, and may be planning to use it for some nefarious purpose. The caller, of course just wants to warn me of the danger, and if I just give him some personal information, he will save me from the evil-doers.

Well, being reasonably knowledgeable in computer affairs, I am onto this guy immediately, and I know why he really needs my personal information. He wants to use my information to empty my bank account or sign himself up for a credit card that he can use and have the bill sent to me. He might want to install a hidden file containing child pornography that he can sell to his friends, or maybe even send messages to terrorists and fix it so the FBI thinks I did it.

Naturally, I want to avoid having my computer used for any of those activities, so I should hang up immediately, and usually, I do just that. But there are times when I’m in an ornery mood, and I can’t resist the urge to pull the caller’s leg a bit. To that end, I pose a question: “Which one of my computers are you talking about?”

Usually, the caller, who I can tell has been confused by my question, hems and haws for a bit before repeating his line about my computer being at risk and he can fix it. So, I repeat the question, which is usually answered with a click followed by the dial tone.

One caller, though, after a long pause, wanted to know how many computers I have.

“Six,” I responded, a misleading answer, since it includes my iPad, an old laptop that sees limited service, the Apple IIe that I bought back in 1983 and the computer that tells my Toyota how much gasoline to deliver to the fuel injectors.

At that point, the caller must have decided he was dealing with some sort of computer wizard who was onto his scam attempt, because he hung up.

Another caller, when confronted with that question, said it was the one that was using Windows. I had an honest response to that question. None of them were running Windows, unless it was that one in my car. I’m not sure what operating system that one runs, although I’m pretty sure it was created in Japan.

On one occasion — the caller was a woman that time — I could hear someone in the background coaching her. While the caller had a nice, young-sounding voice and spoke to me in grammatically flawless, although heavily accented, English, the male voice in the background sounded pretty much like an ordinary American crook or a guy telling his friends about the fish that got away. On that occasion, I told the lady to tell her coach that he should get a real job and hung up.

As I indicated earlier, I probably shouldn’t engage in such conversations with these callers, who, after all, are doing their best to rob me blind. The safest way to handle such callers is to hang up, and most of the time I do. But I often can’t resist, because I get a few chuckles out of the confusion I create with my questions.

But when that recent caller identified himself as a Davy Jones in an accent that marked him as an immigrant from India or Pakistan, I didn’t need to go any further in search of a laugh.

I just told him I wasn’t interested and hung up.

Now all I have to do is decide how to answer the next time I get a call.

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