WHAT: Who’s Making All Those Scam Calls?
Everyone has experienced the call. “This is Alex from the credit card company. We have a refund we want to give you that has to be deposited directly into your bank account. What is your bank account number?” or words to that effect. Or maybe “Alex” (or “Vicki”, or “Josh”) has bad news: your credit rating will plummet if you don’t send his/her company $200 immediately. What’s your credit card number? Calls like this bilk tens of thousands of people – many of them elderly – out of billions of dollars every year. What happens when a reporter traces one of these calls back to its source – in this case, to an Indian boiler room – with the assistance of a Brit hacker. Who is making all those scam calls, anyway, and what’s their story?
WHO: Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is a prize-winning reporter who worked for Science magazine until 2014. A contributing writer to the New York Times, the New Yorker, National Geographic, The Guardian, and other publications. A one-time crime reporter, he has long been interested in scams and frauds. His best-selling spy thriller, The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell, was described as “telling a story that would make a kickass movie”. It has, in fact, been optioned by Hollywood.
WHEN: Thursday 10 February 7:30PM
Where: Online. Click HERE
WHAT: The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History
Imprisoned in a remote Turkish POW camp during World War I, having survived a two-month forced march and a terrifying shootout in the desert, two British officers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, join forces to bamboozle their iron-fisted captors. To stave off despair and boredom, Jones takes a handmade Ouija board and fakes elaborate séances for his fellow prisoners. Word gets around, and one day an Ottoman official approaches Jones with a query: Could Jones contact the spirit world to find a vast treasure rumored to be buried nearby? Jones, a trained lawyer, and Hill, a brilliant magician, use the Ouija board—and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception—to build a trap for their captors that will ultimately lead them to freedom. A con game played for a good cause, the incident provides Fox an opportunity for reflections on the psychology of deception and how in the beginning of the 20th century, speaking to dead spirits seemed less implausible: the world was full of almost unbelievable miracles of magnetism, electricity, radio, and other wonders.
WHO: Margalit Fox originally trained as a cellist and a linguist before pursuing journalism. As a senior writer in The New York Times’s celebrated Obituary News Department, she wrote the front-page public sendoffs of some of the leading cultural figures of our age – including The Amazing Randi. Winner of the William Saroyan Prize for Literature and author of The Confidence Men and three previous books, Conan Doyle for the Defense, The Riddle of the Labyrinth, and Talking Hands, Fox lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson.
WHEN: Thursday 14 April 7:30PM
Where: Online. Details to come.