Phone [OT-ish]

Cidu Bill on Jul 16th 2017

I’m not sure what’s supposed to be funny about the comic itself, but it did remind me of the time a few years ago when my wife was given a ticket to taking on her cell hone while driving, and then had to prove that she didn’t even own a cell phone.

And yes, in fact, it was the last day of the month, when traffic cops have to meet the monthly ticket quotas police departments swear don’t exist.

A perfect scam from the point of view of the cop: 99% of the time the judge will believe him over the driver and the one time there’s evidence that he lied, there are no consequences.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Cornered, Mike Baldwin, cell phones, comic strips, comics, humor | 43 responses so far

43 Responses to “Phone [OT-ish]”

  1. Mona Jul 16th 2017 at 06:28 pm 1

    I have a friend in Seattle who does not have any sort of cellphone, smart or otherwise. No tablet, no laptop, no computer at all and of course no internet. She does have a landline, with an answering machine (not voicemail). I think she has basic cable for TV.
    A few years ago her place of employment changed it’s system so that you had to go online to see when you were scheduled to work, etc. She would go to the public library and use the computer there not very convenient.
    I don’t know how you could prove to the Court that you do not have a cellphone. Just not having a bill doesn’t work, it would be argued that you could have a pre-paid or throw-away phone.
    Was your wife able to get out of the ticket?

  2. Bob Jul 16th 2017 at 06:35 pm 2

    My in-laws keep “reading material” in their bathrooms, and this morning I happened to read an article on “5 things you should do if you’re stopped for speeding.” One of them was to ask if you could get a “warning” instead of a ticket, because…. in some states, the warning still counts toward the ticket quota! That was the first time I ever saw written evidence that the quota system that doesn’t exist (as Bill noted) actually does exist.

  3. Mona Jul 16th 2017 at 06:37 pm 3

    Bob, it might count towards the quota, but it won’t generate any income.

  4. James Pollock Jul 16th 2017 at 06:49 pm 4

    “I don’t know how you could prove to the Court that you do not have a cellphone. Just not having a bill doesn’t work, it would be argued that you could have a pre-paid or throw-away phone.”

    Well, actually, the prosecution has to prove that you DID have one, since possession of a cell phone is one of the required elements of a “cellphone use while driving”.
    Proving that you don’t have one personally doesn’t prove you weren’t using one at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place where the officer testifies that he observed you using one. (The one you were using could very well be someone else’s.)

    I own, but generally do not carry, a cellphone. It gets used approximately 20 minutes per year for personal use, and occasionally for professional use (when I need to check in from a remote site that doesn’t have any landline service in place.) That phone lives in my truck, since the most likely use case is needing to call AAA.

    But the joke is that all of the jury is so into their own phones that they aren’t hearing the testimony anyway.

  5. James Pollock Jul 16th 2017 at 06:59 pm 5

    “Bob, it might count towards the quota, but it won’t generate any income.”

    Individual cops have no stake in generating income, their goals are personal, and are 1) meet the quota assigned (actually, “targets”), and 2) do as little paperwork as possible.

    A common tactic is to wait until a traffic change takes effect… new speed limit, new stop signs, stop-lights going active, or new lane restrictions, whatever… and conduct saturation patrols. The idea being, if a lot of people get pulled over at the new stop sign over at elm and main, the people that get pulled over don’t just remember that there is now a stop sign and elm and main, they tell people about it.

    Conversely, a lot of times they’ll set up “speed traps” in which the fact that they are present is very obvious, and so drivers who are paying attention see the cops and slow down to within 10 miles of the posted speed limit, while the blissfully-unaware continue to speed, leading to their bliss being intruded upon.

    Cops don’t have “quotas”, or a number of tickets they are required to write each shift or each week or each month. But the do have “targets”, which they are expected to meet or explain why they’re writing fewer tickets than are their peers. This is not a secret.

    Parking enforcement is not the same. That’s why you will pretty much never get out of a parking ticket with the parking officer with a warning.

  6. Carl Jul 16th 2017 at 07:48 pm 6

    Well, actually, the prosecution has to prove that you DID have one, since possession of a cell phone is one of the required elements of a “cellphone use while driving”.

    You’re assuming this is following the rule of law. Traffic offenses are generally exempt from constitutional and even common-law protections because judges are well aware no one will appeal, and if they do appeals courts don’t want to hear about them.

  7. Irene Jul 16th 2017 at 08:07 pm 7

    Last month I joined my hubby for a conference in New Orleans. While doing the obligatory bar-hopping, I received a text from my daughter, who was minding my elderly grandmother and my ailing prized fish. I pulled out my Samsung Convoy and a member of our group drunkedly ( read: loudly) proclaimed, “Is that a FLIP PHONE? Your husband is the IT director of an international corporation, and you have a f***ing FLIP PHONE?”
    I defended my phone choice, assuring those present he was not denying me technology. Later, hubby, one of his completely trashed employees and I ended up at a bar with the “Swamp Monster” (mechanical bull). Drunk employee decided to ride the thing. Hubby pulls out his high-tech smart phone to record it for posterity; the battery goes from 58% to zero. I caught the ride on my little Convoy, to the amazement of the others later.

    I love my dumb phone.

  8. Cidu Bill Jul 16th 2017 at 09:05 pm 8

    Yes, my wife got the ticket dismissed: but it took time.

    And we were able to produce paperwork showing that we had on phone between us and I was using it that afternoon. In a different part of the state.

    But you see how easy it would have been for the “Officer Preserve and Protect” to use my wife to meet his monthly quota (whether or not you want to call it a quota) — and the judge didn’t even give him a stern look, so there’s no deterrent.

    And yes, she had to prove she wasn’t talking on the phone, since the officer’s word was accepted as “evidence” that she was.

  9. James Pollock Jul 16th 2017 at 10:01 pm 9

    “You’re assuming this is following the rule of law.”

    That’s because they are.
    The prosecution has to prove the elements of the crime. So the prosecution puts up a witness who testifies that they observed the violation at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. Then the defense gets up and says “what? That’s not true! I never (violation) at (place) at (time) on (date). Then the fact-finder weighs the credibility of the two witnesses and rules accordingly.

    There are some systemic imbalances in the proceedings, but failure of rule of law isn’t one of them. The problem is that impartial witnesses tend to be few and far between, and technological evidence is even rarer. So when the cop says you dun it, and you say you dinent done did it, you aren’t very believable. A survey of jail residents indicates that over 99% are totally and completely innocent of the charge that got them locked up.

  10. Winter Wallaby Jul 17th 2017 at 12:58 am 10

    JP #9: “So when the cop says you dun it, and you say you dinent done did it, you aren’t very believable.”

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. That goes to how much you (or, really, the fact-finder) trusts the police. But the fact that you’re arguing that the judge should almost always trust the police over the accused, without any evidence from the police other than their own word, goes to support Carl’s point, not yours. If the prosecution can “prove” elements of the crime merely by having a policeman assert them, then this is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” only in the Humpty Dumpty sense.

  11. Treesong Jul 17th 2017 at 01:59 am 11

    Isn’t ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ for criminal cases?

  12. James Pollock Jul 17th 2017 at 02:54 am 12

    “That goes to how much you (or, really, the fact-finder) trusts the police.”

    If the judge doesn’t trust police, they probably aren’t pushing criminal cases through that judge’s court any more.

    “the fact that you’re arguing that the judge should almost always trust the police over the accused, without any evidence from the police other than their own word, goes to support Carl’s point, not yours.”
    Unless, of course, you understand what my point actually was.

    “If the prosecution can “prove” elements of the crime merely by having a policeman assert them”
    Um, yeah. The prosecution “merely” presents witness testimony that establishes the elements of the crime. That’s how it works.
    The defense provides witness testimony that challenges one or more of the elements of crime.
    When the witness testimony conflicts, the fact-finder determines which witness(es) it believes.

  13. Boise Ed Jul 17th 2017 at 02:56 am 13

    If I were in Bill’s wife’s situation, and got cited for using a phone when I didn’t have one (unlikely), I’d politely demand that he search me and the car for said phone.

    I once was the middle car in a sandwich. I could prove that the rear car (a BMW) hit me (a VW) and knocked me into the lead car, but hizzoner’s sarcastic response was “Are you a physicist?”

    WWW [10]: I don’t think he’s saying that the judge should almost always trust the police, but rather that the generally do.

  14. Cidu Bill Jul 17th 2017 at 03:15 am 14

    She did. He refused and told her, literally, “tell it to the judge.”

  15. Carl Jul 17th 2017 at 06:03 am 15

    As Bill implies, my point was not that the law doesn’t in principle apply to traffic cases, it’s that in practice judges, acting as both finders of fact and interpreters of law, ignore it and just find the defendant guilty. Not every time or everywhere, but far too often. Note that in most (US) jurisdictions traffic offenses are in a special non-crime category that doesn’t, for instance, entitle the defendant to a jury trial.

  16. Wendy Jul 17th 2017 at 10:52 am 16

    I guess they are just more honest about the railroading in Jamaica (I think it was there, somewhere in the Caribbean). The tour guide on our bus said if you drive and get a ticket, you can’t fight it because even if you weren’t guilty of that violation at that time, they figure you were at some other time, and fine you anyway. Now, how true that is, I can’t say. But that’s what she told us.

  17. Winter Wallaby Jul 17th 2017 at 10:56 am 17

    Boise Ed #13: And like I said, that just goes to show Carl’s point that, in practice, the police don’t have to actually “prove” anything in these cases, as the word “prove” is normally understood.

  18. Scott Jul 17th 2017 at 12:57 pm 18

    I don’t know about other places, but when I’ve been on juries consulting my phone in the jury box would have not been looked on kindly by the judge. In fact, even during selection, we were told to turn the phones off.

  19. Brian in STL Jul 17th 2017 at 06:01 pm 19

    I don’t have a cell phone of any sort. Yet, I am not some sort of Luddite. I have had many other items of technology, often before anyone else in my family, yet they continue to to assert that my lack of a phone is evidence of a fear of technology. Also my disinclination to participate in Facebook. Again I had email before any of them, and have been participating in various forms of social media going back to the usenet days, but that’s not what they use so I’m unreasonable.

    I recently acquired an iPad (anniversary gift from Megacorp) but it doesn’t have cell capability. I mostly use it as an ereader at this time. I did get one game for it, but I kind of lost interest. The game I want for it ( isn’t available on iOs. If anyone has suggestions for space-themed 4X games for iOs, let me know.

    Anyway, I just don’t currently see much need for a phone. I will revisit that when I finally retire here (I’m about 3 months past my original target date).

  20. Meryl A Jul 18th 2017 at 01:36 am 20

    As of three weeks ago I am the unwilling owner of a Android phone. The Blackberry breathed its last when I needed it most to make a call to the doctor and then text husband that I could not call the doctor. (Internet access had previously died unless I could sign into wifi). So my choices were a flip phone and carry my old Palm Centro (I loved that phone and hated to get the Blackberry instead) also for the calendar, it or give in and get an Android. I regret my choice.

    I am currently copying and pasting the information from over 400 contact info listings. I am doing them on a possible need to use basis - not the most organized way to do so but seems to make sense.

    I still can not get the darn thing to work on a consistent basis. Husband has said not to take a half hour writing a text to tell him where to find me in stores - I seem to hit the letter to the right of the one I am hitting (and yes, I am trying to remember to hit the letter to the left of the one I want) and then gave up trying to figure out where to find me in Costco and just wandered around until he found me.

    The learning curve on it is too hard and long.

  21. Meryl A Jul 18th 2017 at 01:52 am 21

    I have fought tickets three times.

    The first one was from a local government where my dad and I had our office. I had a reserved parking space in the building’s lot. I received a parking ticket for parking longer than allowed on the adjacent street. I went to the local (evening) court to fight it with a letter from my employer (dad) that I had same. They told me that I would have to come back during the day to have the matter heard by a judge - (pay the $2 idea). I told them fine with me. The ticket writing person (not sure of her title) presented in much detail how she checked the time, marked the tires, etc. My answer was that I was not parked there as I never park outside of the lot - here is a statement from my boss,who is an attorney. Dismissed.

    We received a notice from NYC that there were multiple parking tickets against my car for parking at night in the Bronx. Never received the tickets, never parked at night in the Bronx. I got copies of the tickets and there were for a green Mazda plate ending AMJ as opposed to my blue mustang, plate ending AMU. Again, I had been told that I would have to miss work and I should just pay it (again, the pay the $2 idea). I needed to bring in as proof I was told the registration of the car at the time this happened - gone by the time we were finally notified. I brought in the original registration papers and the current (at that time) registration. Judge agreed with me, but the matter could not be dropped - it had to be transferred to the correct car - it took 2 years before the matter was finally resolved and the tickets did not show up on a search of the car.

    Lastly I was parking in Queens on the street to go to a client. This was a one lane side street. I found halfway into the space (about 3 spaces from the corner) that the car would not fit. I checked and the road - which I was actually still blocking - was clear. I pulled out. Apparently a police car came around the corner as I was doing so and the officer felt that I cut him off. He turned on the siren and I pulled over into a larger open space further up the block. He issued me a ticket. We go to court. I tell the officer that “male” is checked off and I am female. He allows the officer to amend the ticket. I explain what happened and that the address on the ticket is where the ticket was written, not where I was originally parking and pulled back into the street from. Then I point out that the section quoted as being violated was an intersection infraction and I was not in an intersection. Ticket dismissed.

    I guess I should have finished law school

  22. Meryl A Jul 18th 2017 at 01:56 am 22

    Lastly - re the idea that everyone has…

    On a needlework group we were discussing spam telephone calls. One of the women said that she received the call from “Microsoft” about her Windows software. She told them that she does not own a computer. They yelled at her and swore at her and told her she was lying as “everyone has a computer”.

    And, yes, I explained to the ladies that they should not talk to the callers - just hang up - and that the callers can record the call, and splice what one says to what they want - as in, if you say the word yes at any time, it can end up being yes as an answer to an offer.

  23. Cidu Bill Jul 18th 2017 at 02:00 am 23

    Meryl A’s second story reminded me of the best identity theft story ever — which by the way I was able to search for and find in about ten seconds, which really is quite insane.

  24. Kilby Jul 18th 2017 at 06:41 am 24

    Another type of misconduct is pictured in today’s Rubes. I didn’t think it was very funny, since there have been plenty of actual incidents in which the police have planted evidence on innocent people.

  25. Winter Wallaby Jul 18th 2017 at 11:22 am 25

    Meryl A #22: I’m skeptical of the “yes” recording scam. snopes couldn’t find any confirmed instances of it.

    Kilby #24: Enough actual incidents that I don’t even see the joke.

  26. Brian in STL Jul 18th 2017 at 11:48 am 26

    There have been stories on the lo-cal TV news about the “yes” scam. I think one of them at the very end said quickly, “there are no confirmed cases of this.”

  27. James Pollock Jul 18th 2017 at 02:29 pm 27

    “Meryl A’s second story reminded me of the best identity theft story ever”

    OK, I haven’t clicked on the link, but it’s not “identity theft” to give out someone else’s email address as your own. That’s just a prank that ends at some point by the other Bill calling up and asking “any messages for me?”

  28. Cidu Bill Jul 18th 2017 at 03:20 pm 28

    James, who accused IBB of identity theft?

  29. Boise Ed Jul 18th 2017 at 04:53 pm 29

    “there are no confirmed cases of this.”

    I’m surprised at that. It would be very easy to do.

  30. James Pollock Jul 18th 2017 at 04:53 pm 30

    “who accused IBB of identity theft?”

    Not just identity theft, but the best identity theft story ever! (Yes, in order to make that joke work, I had to pretend that I didn’t follow the link to the story about the lady who found the other lady who had the same name and the bureaucrats who couldn’t tell them apart, despite the difference being, well, black and white.)

  31. Winter Wallaby Jul 18th 2017 at 05:05 pm 31

    Boise Ed #29: I’m having trouble seeing the use case (which is why I’m skeptical). What company or bank is going to do something for the scammer, and have their actions contingent on confirming that it’s your voice in an audio recording saying ‘yes’? The relevant company or bank doesn’t know what your voice sounds like.

  32. Brian in STL Jul 19th 2017 at 01:32 pm 32

    “I’m surprised at that. It would be very easy to do.”

    Would it though? In which circumstances would the “recording” be evidence of anything?

  33. larK Jul 19th 2017 at 02:05 pm 33

    “These, then,” said the figure, speaking from an immensely comfortable chair, “were the Krikkit Wars, the greatest devastation ever visited upon our Galaxy. What you have experienced…”

    Slartibartfast floated past, waving.

    “It’s just a documentary,” he called out, “this is not a good bit. Terribly sorry, trying to find the rewind control…”

    “…is what billions upon billions of innocent…”

    “Do not,” called out Slartibartfast, floating past again, and fiddling furiously with the thing that he had stuck into the wall of the room of Informational Illusions and that was in fact still stuck there, “agree to buy anything at this point.”

    –Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything

  34. Boise Ed Jul 20th 2017 at 03:11 am 34

    WW [31] and Brian [32]: Consider the legitimate offer. Ajax offers you something, with the whole call being recorded, and asks if you agree to the terms. You say “yes,” and the deal goes on. If you later balk, they have proof that you said “yes.” Now consider the scammer. You don’t agree to the deal, but you said “yes” to something else like “Is this Ed?” They just splice in the “yes” and have “proof” that you agreed.

  35. Meryl A Jul 25th 2017 at 02:54 am 35

    Reliable friend’s mom ran into a mess that he had to fix for her from her saying “yes”.

  36. Winter Wallaby Jul 25th 2017 at 12:00 pm 36

    Boise Ed #34: How is this “proof” of your consent going to be used? If they don’t have some way of accessing your credit cards or bank account, then they need to use this “proof” to convince some company to access your account, and that company doesn’t know what your voice sounds like anyway. On the other hand, if they already have, for example, your hacked credit card number, they can just use it without any audio recording. For this to be useful, there needs to be some system in which accessing your account information is contingent on someone listening to an audio recording, and comparing it to known recordings of your voice to check that it’s your voice (rather than the scammer’s friend) saying “yes.” That’s a very unusual authentication system, to say the least.

    Meryl A #35: How did the scam work? How did the reliable friend know that the mess resulted from her saying “yes”?

  37. Boise Ed Jul 27th 2017 at 02:48 pm 37

    WW [36]: I recall that when I set up my granddaughter on a “family” phone plan, they read the terms and obligations and asked “Do you understand and agree to these terms?” Of course, I said yes. Then later, if I see the bill or receive something I didn’t remember ordering, and I complain about it, they can say, “No, we have your assent to this.” If it all came down to a legal fight, they could do a voiceprint analysis and prove that it was my voice. In the case of a scammer, an expensive expert could probably prove that the recording was altered. James P could probably expound upon this with more authority than I can.

  38. Winter Wallaby Jul 27th 2017 at 03:26 pm 38

    Boise Ed #37: Your verbal assent is useful for legitimate companies, since they have no fear (other than the cost) of going to court. I still don’t see the scenario in which the spliced audio recording is useful for a scammer, as the scammer doesn’t want to go to court.

    What’s the scenario here? If the scammer had your credit card number, they would just use it. So they don’t have it, but send you a bill, with the plan that when you don’t pay it, they’ll take you, and several thousands of other people, to court, using similarly spliced audio recordings? This would be a really bad scam, both because it would be easily detectable, and because scammers don’t want to voluntarily expose themselves to the legal system.

    On the more “experimental” side, I’d suggest that if this was in fact a commonly run scam, it wouldn’t be hard for snopes/news/BBB to give real examples of it.

  39. Winter Wallaby Jul 27th 2017 at 03:57 pm 39

    Or to put it another way: The fact that recorded verbal consent is useful for a legitimate company, which has many legitimate charges, some of which will be contested, doesn’t explain how doctored verbal consent is useful for an organization which only has illegitimate charges, all of which will be contested.

  40. Cidu Bill Jul 27th 2017 at 05:25 pm 40

    This all seems like a very Mission Impossible-level scam for a very small benefit. Not to mention no possible deniability or defense if caught.

    What some companies do do, though — and don’t worry, Sprint, I’m not mentioning any names — is just lie and say that according to their written summary of the call, you agreed to whatever. Since they’re the only ones who have a recording of the call, most people will eventually just give up.

  41. James Pollock Jul 27th 2017 at 05:58 pm 41

    To be fair to Bill’s unnamed company, it’s not necessarily them.

    The call-center drone has a target number to hit, and if they can’t hit it honestly, well, they can just like and say they did. The drone doesn’t owe the company any loyalty… they set impossible-to-reach targets. They don’t owe the customer any loyalty, the customer said “no thanks” when the drone needed a “yes”… thanks for nothin’, customer!

    If all a scammer needed to gain access to your money was a recording of you saying “yes”, then they’d find it much more expedient to just use a generic recording of someone saying “yes”, saying it was you, and voila! How many Americans have close enough relationships with their bankers that a random employee can hear a recording of a single, single-syllable word and tell if the person recorded is the person with the money being accessed?

  42. Cidu Bill Jul 27th 2017 at 06:59 pm 42

    I was referring as well to maybe-Sprint specifically, which is why I tell them I won’t discuss ANYTHING relating to our account verbally.

  43. Meryl A Aug 2nd 2017 at 01:40 am 43

    The friend was the one who had to undo it all for his mom. When he was doing so, they had her giving permission by saying “yes”. I am guessing that if they have one’s telephone number and one’s address can be determined from it one can be signed up for and billed for things. I know we locked our telephone number so that, say, the long distance carrier could not be changed without our permission - a recorded “Yes” could be used to show a phone company that I agreed to change it if pieced together - or items could be “crammed” (as it is called) and charged to the phone bill.

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