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#164 Long Distance: The Real Alex Martin


Three years after Alex Goldman traveled to India to investigate a scammy call center, he gets a tip that makes him question everything he learned in his first trip.

Long Distance Part I

Long Distance Part II

Akash's YouTube

Akash's podcast episode

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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from gimlet. This is reply off I'm out empty, driven, So hey, there's a reason that I wanted to talk to you and it's because I have to make a correction. What is your correction. Do you remember the story? Long distance? Yes, now. I know that three years now and before can get started. I should say that this episode gonna contain a lot of spoilers for those episode. So if you have to listen to them, go back and recent episodes one or two in one of three, but basically couple years ago. I did this story about my relationship with a tech support scammer in India and it began when I got robot call saying that my Icloud might be compromised, so I decided to call the number back. Your college very important to us is the underlying over
next to the older age, and thank you for calling all links body talking to Alex helping out what a coincidence my name. Alex? I gotta call that said that there are some now you name it Michael gold. Now my it'll name is Alex, I go buy out, has all you go by Alex? Ok, I'll talk can help this guy tells me. His name is Alex Martin and at first reading. Doing like your standard tech support phone call like you have a virus pay us Bob, ah but like when, make it clear to him. I know this is a scam. He drops the facade in the craziest way possible. I'm look. Of this phone number online. It does not say It is any needs related apple in any way on trying to figure out who you are. We are anonymous. We are Legion, expect
year in year, out of your league and expect you are you coming for me, we'll be demolishing all your social. I didn't he's. So eventually he admits is not part of anonymous that he's just your average everyday telephone scammer. But then he was like talking to me about being a telephone scammer in this way. That was completely aimless. Don't you feel bad at all about scamming people who don't know anything about computers? No, I wonder why not. Why would I because you got a lot of money we don't you spend, but how do you know how much money I have? We judge them like we make a german like somebody with the language heard or having a very good name. You seem like they all of them. We haven't got the money. So I stay on the phone with this guy for about twenty minutes and I just thought it was fascinating.
And I had to call centres number so I just kept calling back and I would always gets Super excited. When I got this guy came out ex modern through you. Remember me: how's it goin man. I've been trying to get in touch with you for weeks. My goodness I would go if you remember. I really liked him! Yes, I do. I think what I like about him is that I feel like were cut from the same cloth like I would say, of knock. Listen, chatty or to where you could use to describe and that's how I would also describe Alex Martin like every time, I was just like. Oh I just want to give this game a gamer tat. Can we can write, hang out and team speak though all night, you Know- and I called back enough- that he eventually gave me his cell phone number and he told me his real name is come all he says he's. Manager of a call centre which call the costumes, and instead talking to the office. I was talking to him at his house, like in the middle of the night Danny them. Whenever you come to India to call me, ok, I'm becoming
with a new Delhi. Yeah come just come for two three Damon will only make you visit places like Pouch, Berlin and in these phone calls. He sounded very subdued, like very quiet. Not quite as joke and we kind of debated in the office like is this. The same guy but I was pretty sure, was I just figured, may be sound a little different because the changes setting and eventually he invited me to india- and I was like, of course and about like I get to hang out with the guy who like worked at the call centre and who answer my questions. But when I got the India he was like a completely different person was not fun to be around seem like he was barely putting up with me rather than in drawing my company. Unlike
Lefton you're feeling like that it was kind of a bust. We didn't learn what we do it yeah little bit, because there was like you got this. You thought you were smart in your friend and said you got this dude, who was cold and angry and was the hitting way more. The way you'd expect a guy who runs a scam, calls on her to behave when a journalist isn't this house when you put it that way. Yes, yes, but then like after we put the story out- and this is the correction that I wanted to tell you one of the people from the call center, it spoken too, for the story got in touch with me and was like hey come all the guy you met in India. He is not Alex. Martin Alex Martin is someone else. Those are two different people and appreciate happened. Is that during a particular call without its Martin Kemal dislike grabbed the phone away from him and, basically to keep me,
from calling the call center anymore gave me his cell phone number and that's how I ended up talking to him when he was at home. That makes more sense, so you try to others. I found you ain't even other person. You actually never got to have the experience that you thought you were gonna. Have you know ass your friend, that's true enough. We gotta go see my friend. But the same source? Who said that they were two different people pointed meat, the real Alex Martin. They sent me his facebook profile and after decent amount of haranguing, I actually managed to get him on a phone Alex. Well, you I'm good. How are you what's going on? I'm doing great thanks for asking man has been long time. It has been a long time it has, and he tells me his real name. Oh yeah, it's a curse gosh normal, that's funny, so a caution I started talking and I'm very stoked to finally be talking to this guy that I'd basically wanted to since the beginning of long distance saga, but pretty much. Immediately. The reply halting falls into the same debate that we were,
having during the original long distance, because shrewdly was like Alex, are you sure, this is really Alex. Martin, like she's, That's the guy who entered the phone when I first call the castings sound like someone. She went to high school with, and this guy I'm talking to you now, has a different exit. So we decided to call him up hello. Is this? A cash Hi hi across this is a strategic element. Me. I work at reply. All bakers, okay, Alex hey Alex, is on the phone to so I guess. I m sorry to call you so way
I wanted to say I heard your interview with Alex and you don't sound like Alex Martin to me, so I ask you: are so using that idle? Fellow, like our export right, yeah, the guy who picks up and who says, I'm anonymous, I'm ledge and you don't sound like him, but that wasn't me to be honest or it so Peter This is now. I have to issue a second correction, because our cash told me that Alex Martin was not one person. Oh yeah, was a name that everyone in the office would use when they knew I was calling, Everybody knows: ok, I'll, go and call them. He did. You know that both about some staff and everybody thought it. Do you notice you that our debate you're calling me I am Alex or anybody acquisition
the girl. He become products so that those I have an activity that you notice have dares waded afore. I guess a costume that he was not the first Alex Martin that I spoke to, but he was one of the Alex Martens that I spoke to my God. So thank you partly because a fairly are not very good at telling the absence of any men apart, you made, this very architecture was only thought was a person was actually like a composite character and even though that sort of sex you're still basically trying to hang out with your composite character friend, she saying like I got catfish and I'm wounded by it a little bit yeah, I don't know yet I want to be. I liked him. I thought he was funny. It just turns out that there were many of them so anyway, shooting devise this test to confirm that he was like one of
Ex Martens that I wanted to be friends with which was to grab a transcript from the episode from the original episode and have us recreate it. On the phone to make sure he was. He said he was so a cash. I that you are very long. I, that you are very long message on what's up. In truth, he was one If you could read if you can read some of the sections from it, that's the Alex Martin Sections like the part where you say say: like you're famous personality Google or or in fact, in fact, to weaken You create the cameras station. I told you, I'm not your toilet, who s Martin, you at your parts they combine so which one did you pick, which phone call so the call that car said with him in the original episode
it's about forty minutes in, and it's like one of the most memorable calls for me because it's like very quintessential, Alex Martin like he hit. You know we place our. He like place all the hits he saw. He is kind of asshole. He makes one of me. He is pretty charming, he seems like he's having a lot of fun and stay the phone for like way longer than you'd. Imagine him to go. We caution. I reenacted a bunch of the moments from that call, and I'm gonna play your couple. So first here's a clip from twenty seventeen. A famous or start again, Google. You know just Google domain when you got a silicon having a heartfelt here's, the fat and reading spectacles having a weird spinal now. I do have a game I do Our gmail and here is the twenty two: dear cash, yet you're famous personnel good. You know you just Google. Your name
and you gotta see very little guy have all ears big fat and bearing a spectacle waiting, those appear smile and then here's another clip from twenty seventeen, but that is its sounding. Like yesterday, sounding like him came to point out that what you have done is you ve, taken a person whose initial job was to call you and read from scrapped, but who is bad that job because he couldn't stick to that script? You now taken made a script of that conversation and you are having him call you and read from that guess. I never thought about it like that. But yeah anyway, here is a clip from the original episode, would hardly right, o Warner
Are you gonna, Counterstrike, Prager Halligan? I suck it again. I suck at that time, and then here is the cash twenty twenty script reed well. I've lay on his right you're rid of use pretty gap here. Warcraft are you gonna counterstrike, Pretty good, I'm hell, I get that second begging. Second, I remember that I remember the study It's like Yahoo pie come on shrewdly archives. Thank you, sir. Much for doing that. Ok, I think those you such as these convinced the ashes convinced. Can I ask a cash like how does it feel for you to read those words that you sad years ago like does it feel, like you recognise the poorest.
Who said that should be our this on this one. I'm really embarrassed right now for the galloping of things, because Today I know the person I am. I would never. I mean really dear, I don't even to imitate the Supreme Data again. I can say that I dont: why is it that soap, when I've been talking to a cash three ago, there are like a ton of things I wanted to know about his life and about the call center. But when I got to India the person who is playing Alex Martinet, I was actually his scary boss, who just want me to stop reporting mystery altogether so like now, finally,
to ask her car my questions after the break a cautious story. This episode is brought to you by Samsung Galaxy five g. It feels good to be first like one you're, the first person to share and new podcast with your friends but your car and found might be leaving you behind. It won't automatically update used by people when you upgrade to a five g phone like Galaxy ACE, only one, five g or as twenty five g, you will be the first to download a series of seconds. The first told
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And Samsung has a range of galaxy. Five g phones to ensure there is a model that picture lifestyle like Galaxy, a seventy one, five g and s twenty five g. When you up great, you can be the first to download a series in seconds. First, till a crystal clear on a video call and a well first at getting things done, those rainbow pinwheels and slow voting arrows we'll go what hit them. Samsung Galaxy five g help You be the first on five g, so you can be the first to even more. Welcome back to the show, so at this point I knew here I had an actual. Its Martin could worked at a cost things, and so I wanted to ask him all of the questions that I had asked the wrong guy three years ago, like how does someone working in an indian scam call Centre and like what is that job like? So what is your about gosh? So
a cash grew up in Mumbai, he moved to Delhi with his family when you six seven or eight years old, he like really into sports when he was in high school had idea what he wanted to do with his reply freely and he told me that at the time he started at he had just got not a high school. There isn't young, he was very young and at the time like his day, add crew on the business is business wasn't doing very well, his mom wasn't working until she needed to get a job. Did he know what he was signing up for? He totally didn't know. He was that for when you interviewed, were you nervous? Oh yes, I was what are you nervous? about how was nervous about? Because I really wanted a job, because I left the previous one, because I was not big enough. So I went there. It was the afternoon I'm if I remember it well, it was almost two or three p m what did you where to your interview? I was dressed, follow
when the I dont know exactly what I was reading, but, yes, I was formerly trust my eye. I look good informers gay ok! Well, then, unless one raised here did you get idea of sort of what they were looking for. Was it more people who were techie or is it more people who spoke in English and communicate? Well, one as the I'll tell you are you do so people solar and Australia. That's what to use it I did that job for six months ago, I had a good action sort of way. And down. I knew how to deal with customers. Who are you know Gaza, showing people are set to be stereotypically, angry and rude. Yeah. I know I don't At the same time, I have heard a lot of time, but I find that very good. Ok, so that was plus point in my resume at that time that they find that ok here deals with the israeli people. He might good do good that the EU is people as well, so cash gets this gig crossings.
He starts going to work in the same building. The daimio when I eventually visited red above headphones, they headphone club as a vice real, isn't a music on the in depth, but with headphones, and I can hear the music your dancing do so dancing could be more ready, has an embarrassing on areas, but the way that it worked dislike here. If started at night, because they needed a call people in the. U S during the middle of the day, so he weighed wake up in the evening. He by himself a juice causing We sent a cab to pick him up every night, raspberry fancy, I thought so too, but I actually found out that that's like very standard for companies that do no chief calls to the U S, so he would take the elevator the fourth floor and he would have his phone to the security guard at the door. So anyone
you somebody phone right because he not allow any of you devices in there because it then you can steal information of the customers arch their credentials. I caught information stuff, so you should keep the foreign outside the guard thing you gotta, get it open against it, but for now we believe we can take it back. Did they did they lock you in, because when I went there they had the shutters down. I remember like anything like this. They might have done that because you came in ready. You cannot see already and talk to any other problem here. Probably that was the reason because, as far as their number at their nothing happened occurs to me that the office it actually pretty nice, like you their condition? The seats were comfy and at first he was actually do legitimate cause like he was calling people in the UK about phone bills or something like that. He told me can't exactly remember what he was doing but what catches is attention is that there's another group of people on the same call floor. They have kind of They are rarefied air about them there,
something that he heard with Microsoft: technical support, they simply we're getting paid more there like having more fun. They seem cooler. Think a coup is like the cool kids table at lunch. You know it's. Only the workplace was set up as temptation you not. I mean it's like. There, the straight and narrow job. That's boring that doesn't pay is like sitting across the room, from another like illegal job. That's an exciting and pay sums of money and just like how long until you crack yeah I meet. But the thing is they weren't like that's, not how they framed it. They didn't tell him that those people are scamming. They were just making more money and really the centre for that group was this giant whiteboard where they marked down their sales. A cash would always noticed people going to it in ostentatiously writing big numbers on it. And I use as you like people are making thousand dollars find it always, and I was like tat that's a lot of money. You know, I was getting my regular salary. There was no incentives and I got to know that these tech support people are getting incentives out of it. I was like ship by incentives. He just mean sales commissions
and then I ask the punishment but I guess I wanna get shipped to technical support and settled this. U K customs support service, so gap, that's how it all started a cost, really needed. The money, because his fair, Had taken out alone papers, college use taking classes during the day, and so the bosses startling and work on this other team esteem, the whiteboard and at first he's just training where just listens and other people's calls, but all their living and listen to is the beginning of the cars, like the part where people call and say hey. I got a message that I was so I didn't really know what happens next, because they just transfer the call to senior what happens next, so now. What are you in the actual scam components from you, yeah exactly? I was having a perception that they might actually connect with the Microsoft supporting after this. Oh, you thought that they might connect them I actually had an impression for a few days that they do this and that's how they get incentive. But, finally,
one day they let him here the second half of the call, and what are you this is not a senior technician passing the customer after Microsoft. Instead, the Senor technician Told the collie that for like four hundred dollars, a castings would provide ongoing technical support for them and a caution you that that service didn't exist when you realise that it was a scam when it when you realise that you're scaring people were what did you where's? Your first impulse to be like two, like let people know or was your first impulse to just be like well, ok, it is a good way to make When I first got to know, I was surprised, not ok, all president four hundred dollars in the pocket tat. I was right I'll, be. Ok, I'm going back home with foreign it Yeah, so he decides at this point like ok, I'm gonna be rich, maybe I can ignore my guilt for a little while, but dying,
You know at the end of the day, you only got used to get the equal one and in the repeal of you made a foreigner dollar sally, get founded a piece of care, and I was like what the f I mean. Four hundred ruby is five dollars and forty cents in the EU. Right now. Yeah. If I go to Kiev see now I spend more than that, I can read the whiteboard use, Have you a very different story? It hadn't Do a cash before this moment that the scammer company that he worked for would also scam him which, like, of course, they would but even he's pissed the money he was making was really helping, so he decides to stick it out, got it and and and when people ask him about his new job, he'd be just be like. Oh I work for Microsoft, so he felt a little bit ashamed totally, and so he was doing his job at whose feeling kind of bad about, and then this other things started happening at work, which is that I started calling and
show me that, like even though everybody who is taking a calls was doing needs like Alex Martin role, play games with me, the bosses did not find my presence funny at all these aid. You gave you a lot where they like discussing you and lifestyle. Meetings. Apparently apparently I was enough. I mean I called every day, sometimes several times a day right, so it was like. Never talk to Alex Goldman, but it was like bless the only funding that ever happened to this job that so we urge and sweet it so the disease. Making of like someone in their life through does, like, I don't know yet he told me right around that time. It was getting more and more stressful who work there, because the bosses were really breathing down there next to bring in tonnes money every day there was an office sales goal then held him was a dog at least we have to meet it while ten,
on the day that alot ten thousand dollars a day is a lot lot Alex it's a lot. What happened? If you didn't make ten thousand a day? Where would they do there if he knew it like a damned the day. You know the atmosphere. Gonna call man he's gonna, yellow does like for not cracking sales Liza get ultimatums. Now you might be getting note Period you how to improve the performance I got used to it. After a few times, getting in front of your time I just got used to it. Did people was there like a lot of yelling from the bosses. Did they come out in great you lot or was it Only usually there was down in initial. There was not because it was really good times in the initial times like we're, making good sales, and live on things, got worse the people that they were calling word just starting to get wise to the whole tech support, scam and that actually brought out scam, bakers, people who, like trying, tie up the line for as long as past
more and so a cash and his co workers we're having a lot of trouble hitting their daily goals and thereby this in turn weakening way more stressed out and according to a cash, they actually started to get violent with people who work there. I'll tell you something I wore it was about third month in that place, I saw somebody being passed on the floor from the bosses. Oh my god, you there was trusting that guy, so bad and actually terrified me so badly. I was like tat I gonna leave this should as soon as possible. What it everybody else in the room do when this was happening. Did anyone tried to help? did anybody do anything now, known alone alone. Now everybody was just taking their ass in the chair. I got a little everybody was scared of the same thing happening to them so low wages. The boys against it, and I was really I was hell. I'm scared.
Guy says he wanted to quit, but he rationalizes choice to stay, partly because of how payment at costing for it, because you would get a paycheck on the seventh of every month, but he would get his commissions ten days later. So if he quits right after he gets a paycheck commissions and if he quits after he gets a commission, do you lose all the money he made in the last ten days and then, like I said it's like the decision was basically made for him. Because this rumour started about him, which is a rumour that he denies that he was trying to steal contacts from a castings to start his own company. And when a cash told me this, it made me realize that one of the most memorable weirdest things it happened in India. I'd completely misunderstood. So at one point, while I was India, I met up for dinner with come all and the boss of accosting scanning, deeper and deeper was a very imposing and frightening guy and basically everything I that he said to me the whole time you're there I think he was lying, but at one point
during our dinner, she, like we are asking him about the call center and you're asking about Alex Martin and he like lifted his hand up and he's like juicy this and had like this like bruise on his pinky. He was, but he said, fuck him. I got that from smacking and because you try to steal from us yeah and I figured he was just trying to scare me but like after the episode came out, I spoke to someone who worked at a castings who said heard that a cash really was beaten up well and when ass the cash about it. He confirmed it, but he didn't wanna go into detail. All that I'm a our older Elsie was is that it is a very small. I'm really sorry. So a cash left job three years ago. He heard the original long distance episodes, but he didn't reach out to tell us what he knew, because we still really scared the acoustics feel even still. I arrange our first phone call took a lotta back and forth because he knew that like bite, decide.
You talk to me. He might be putting himself a risk, but eventually he decided it was worth it even if it meant that he was gonna, be looking over her shoulder for a little while, if they don't it to this day might laugh at it, but I'm so scared of them, but he has that's all right now follow so you have. You have concerns that if they hear this they might than that. New York slight indefinitely? They will like it definitely do not like it, but here what I what I'm saying I want you to put this in regarding specially wouldn't the signal that, whatever I'm saying, is true. Ok, there's nothing wrong as mentioned in here, and if it is holding you, it is because it is wrong and you know it gets better. You just mean that shit and do something good with all money that you got it's been about three years since a cautionary,
fastings and fortunately it sounds like he's in a private place. Right now I mean he teaches classes about hacking and cyber security and dumb he actually even tried making an episode of his unpack? Asked hackers are inevitable, security is a delusion. An attack is a surprise. The attacker likes it and the victim doesn't it's funny. They like he has ended up at this point in his journey having a job that is like more like yours than it was when he started. Yes, I feel like what you have ended up with such a perfect link. Internet relationship story because it's like you met this person, it's really exciting, but you really projecting pretty wildly unto them and then, like you, meet him in person is disappointing. You like know that
things are telling you are true, some of them might not be it just it just sort of lives in this weird space between real and not real. That feels actually really familiar to me. I mean that, yes, that that is exactly what it feels like. He did say a few months back before before the krona virus. Stuff said in an earnest Vatican, but equally Oh, he said that he was actually coming to Sacramento due to a talk, and I was what we should meet up the talk I canceled, but you know, if we're going to fight a California to yeah, are. You. Are you implying that I've learned nothing? I just think. I think the human heart is resilient. Adorable.
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Transcript generated on 2020-07-24.