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Phone scammer: Minnesotans are marks because we're too nice to hang up

Minnesotans: just so gosh golly darn nice they know about us all the way in Hong Kong!

Minnesotans: just so gosh golly darn nice they know about us all the way in Hong Kong! Getty Images/iStockphoto

As a Minnesotan, reader, odds are you are currently on a phone call you haven't found a fittingly polite way to get out of since it began around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evening.

By nature, the people of this state never know how to cut off a conversation, regardless of who's calling. When two Minnesotnas are on the line with each other, they sometimes become locked into a perpetual verbal engagement that ends only when a participant enters a boredom-induced vegetative state.

Our reputation for kindness-to-a-fault precedes us, according to a story in the Pioneer Press, which says Minnesota's hesitancy to do something even the least bit rude extends all the way to Hong Kong.

There, according to Dakota County Commissioner and former state representative Joe Atkins, a group of 400-some scammers are operating out of a warehouse, dialing Americans hour after hour, day after day. 

Atkins says he reached one of these men by dialing the number that was being used to harass one of his constituents, and telling them the county sheriff was coming for them if they didn't pay their taxes.

For some reason, once they'd established that this was all a ruse, this fellow felt like being candid with Atkins. Here's the money quote:

“He said he could make as much in a day scamming people than what he could make in a month working a manufacturing job. He said Minnesotans are easy, because they don’t hang up.”

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie tells the PiPress his office is not in the habit of having third parties call civilians to harangue them about owing back taxes. They are, however, concerned about how many people fall for these scams, especially among people living in nursing homes. Says Leslie: "I have no way of going to Hong Kong to arrest [the scammers]."

We suppose not, and unless Joe Atkins is available for full-time work counseling these shiftless characters one-on-one, these calls will keep coming. Leslie suggests you don't answer calls from numbers you don't know.

Here's a better, more Minnesotan idea: Call your elderly relatives and speak to them briefly. Be nice. Tell them you love them. Set down the phone and move on with your life, knowing the person on the other end would sooner spend their golden years shouting "Hello? I can't hear you, dear. These dang phones..." than risk the chance of a Thanksgiving conversation about your mean old aunt.