Hi, my name is Alex Goldman, and I co-host the Reply All podcast with PJ Vogt. About six months ago a tech support phone scammer tried to tell me my iCloud had been compromised, my bank account had been hacked, and so on. And when I told him I knew it was a scam, rather than hang up on me, they actually started telling me about how their scam worked. So I called them relentlessly, found out the name of the call center, the people who ran the company, everything I could find. And then, last month, we went to India to meet the owner. You can hear this story below.

Long Distance, Part I

Long Distance, Part II

We learned a lot about what it's like to work in a company like this, how epidemic call support scams are, and a lot more. Ask us about tech support scams, our trip to india or just about Reply All/podcasting in general. I'll be answering most of the questions, but hopefully my co-host PJ Vogt (/u/pjvogt), executive producer Tim Howard (/u/timgimlet) and producer Damiano Marchetti will stop by and answer some questions as well!


EDIT - we were working on the episode until @ 4AM last night, so if the other guys don't show up, don't get too mad at them.

Edit 2, 4:18 PM 8/3/17: Thanks for the excellent questions! I have to bail for a while, but I'll come back tonight and answer some more questions, so feel free to keep asking!

Comments: 697 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

albinekman281 karma

Hi, I have detected that your computer has a virus and is being used in a bot-net, could I remote connect and install some anti-virus software?

Replyallalex273 karma

Sure. I have no problem with stranger remotely connecting with my computer

BreezyBlink182 karma

Hey! Did you genuinely ever feel like you were in physical danger while creating Long Distance?

Replyallalex215 karma

Yes. I would say once Deepak gloated about slapping Alex Martin, I thought "Oh, his intention in telling us this is very clearly to intimidate us. Or to threaten us." Also Kamal threaten to come to our hotel room didn't feel great. But we moved before that.

shirleysparrow55 karma

Piggybacking on this: have you ever felt like you were in physical danger during any other episodes? What about Sruthi or other producers?

Replyallalex117 karma

Any time I approach a weird situation (say a warehouse shipping stolen goods in NJ, or tresspassing in an abandoned building), I always imagine there's some world in which I might get harmed. But in the moment I assess the risk, and usually go for it anyway. Always go for it.

I dont know if anyone else has ever felt like they could be in danger!

kristofire14 karma

Who is the most likely to feel in danger out of the Reply All team?

Replyallalex40 karma

I mean we all do! But Sruthi is definitely the most fearless.

benfromwales154 karma

Hi Alex! Wonderful work on the last two episodes!

Did you genuinely feel Kamal was inviting you over as a friend? Or did you suspect it might be a trap?

Replyallalex143 karma

To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure. He seemed like he was being candid in the run-up to going to India, but I was never 100% sure. But I never thought itwas a trap. I thought it was him trying to engage me personally and take my mind and attention away from the call center.

thomfountain134 karma

Is there any epilogue since you were over there?

Does the Indian law enforcement or government ever take action against these companies, and if so do they seem to be making any moves against Acostings?

Where's the best place to eat for cheap in Brooklyn?

PS, your podcast is my favorite thing and has been since TL;DR days. Thank you for weekly laughs!

Replyallalex264 karma

Many of their websites have shut down, Kamal deleted his facebook page, but as of this afternoon, I called a 1-800 number that goes to their call center and they picked up. Also, they changed the registration on one of their websites to my name and phone number. Sick troll, accostings.

Indian law enforcement does take action against these companies, but usually the bigger ones with hundreds of employees. Accostings is closer to @ 50 employees. I have no idea if law enforcement is going after them.

Yola's cafe on Metropolitan near Union St. has great cheap tamales.

kmbb56 karma

Can you take over their website then if it's registered in your name?

Awesome episodes. I want to the see the video in front of Accostings!

Replyallalex104 karma

I just opened a complaint with their registrar and they changed it.

monkey2guns121 karma

This is a question for PJ. Is your laugh really like that?

Replyallalex185 karma

I can answer that. It is

Slackwise78 karma

Hi Alex, has the CDC ever contacted you about how infectious PJ's laugh is?

Replyallalex103 karma


brightvette74 karma

Hi Alex! Is there any chance you can upload the video you took in front of Accostings’ door?

Great work. This was my favorite Reply All story yet.

Replyallalex56 karma

Maybe some day...

Flokiki71 karma

In the first part of the episode, you talked a lot with a certain "Alex Martin" but then he seems to disappear, and reappear later as Kamal (sorry if I mispell it). I noticed while listening to this episode that Kamal and the first Alex Martin didn't have the same voice. Plus, when you talk to Kamal about video games he didn't really seem to care.

Why do you think it was the same person all along?

They may have a "fake english-sounding names list" and pick one of them whenever someone calls.

Anyway, keep up the good work! I love those investingation episodes.

Replyallalex89 karma

This was a topic of discussion in the office. First of all, we listened to the tape a million times and I heard a similarity there. Secondly, he changed RIGHT AWAY in the middle of a phone call. ITs not like he said "hold on," and then another voice came on. It was like he changed on a dime. I can never know for sure, but I'm confident they were the same people.

shirleysparrow55 karma

What is Matt Lieber today?

Replyallalex83 karma

Our boss

yarissey52 karma

Love the show, and loved TL;DR

How do you feel about the way TL:DR was handled after you left, and also about the discontinuation of the show after the controversy surrounding it?

edit* context

Replyallalex45 karma

I don't know much about what happened internally that led to it ending. I like Meredith a lot, and she is doing great work at Racked. We liked what she had done with the place and it was a shame to see it end so quickly

johnspidey50 karma

Hi Alex, Absolutely love the show. I'm going to fire off a few and hope to hear from you!

  • What is your favourite yes, yes, no?
  • Have you talked to Kamal recently?
  • Do you guys ever not have a good time doing the show?
  • Is anyone at Gimlet still getting phished?
  • Followup question - can I get your email and passwords?

Thanks again. Your team is awesome. Definitely one of my favourite Gimlet shows!

Replyallalex109 karma

  • What is your favourite yes, yes, no?

Jason Mantzoukas

  • Have you talked to Kamal recently?

I called him before the first episode was released to tell him exactly what we were going to say about him on the show. This is common journalistic practice. But that's the last time I talked to him.

  • Do you guys ever not have a good time doing the show?

We fight a lot about editorial decisions, and sometimes have very late nights, but we're enjoying ourselves more often than not.

  • Is anyone at Gimlet still getting phished?

Not to my knowledge, but you'd have to ask phia.

  • Followup question - can I get your email and passwords?

UN: [email protected]/matchbox420

backwardsplanning15 karma

What did Kamal think or tell you about this when you called to tell him what you were saying about him?

Replyallalex9 karma

I asked him if he wanted to confirm or refute anything we were reporting. He kept saying "say whatever you want, alex, I'm not telling you anything"

shirleysparrow49 karma

You've now let multiple bad actors (including PJ) access your devices for episodes. What do you do to protect your information and accounts?

Replyallalex62 karma

Use password manager, change my passwords regularly, pray that I am safe, publicly acknowledge my terrible opsec

elkanor14 karma

And how does your wife feel about all this?

Replyallalex51 karma

She's not a fan!

Alligator847 karma

Did Snigdha Poonam experience any kind of retaliation for helping you guys?

Replyallalex90 karma

No. She had already done a lot of reporting on these call centers, and if you hadn't noticed, is much braver than us.

BreezyBlink42 karma

What do you think is Reply All's strongest episode to date?

ink_writer41 karma

How much was PJ in the loop as all of this was happening? Is the surprise we hear on the show just a story telling technique or was he truly unaware of the details of his cohosts trip to India?

love the show and all the staff; one of my favorite parts of every week :)

Replyallalex83 karma

VERY out of the loop. We have limited resources on this show, and after we had worked on these episodes for months, PJ was like "you need to bring me into the studio and tell me SOMETHING, because I have no idea if this is all worth it for the show." It was really really stressing him out.

yarissey37 karma

What are some episode ideas that you really like but never got through the pipeline for whatever reason? I mean, the idea of "I'll take LSD at work and not tell anyone" is pretty crazy on paper and I want to see what you decided didn't make the cut.

Replyallalex34 karma

Usually when things don't make it through, it's not because they're too crazy, but because they don't make good stories. I'd love to regale you with all the times we attempted repel off the roof of the Sears Tower, but it's the much more mundane stuff that actually doesn't turn into stories. It's sometimes hard to know what's a good story going into it.

MisterBigWang36 karma

Hi PJ/Alex/Sruthi. I really appreciate how you guys tell your stories. My favourite episode of all time of Reply All is #86 “Man of the People”. The way the narrative is structured really impressed me since it’s non-chronological and I find that John Brinkley is an incredibly detailed and interesting story to tell.

• How did you find out about John Brinkley? Was it through research, reading, randomly.

• How do you come up with the narrative structure? “Man of the People” is non-linear (starts with a cold open about an old Mrs. Brinkley and kids in the neighbourhood). I also find that this story in particular has “pivot points”, meaning particular instances where the narrative takes major detours.

• How do you know when to cut something out? There’s a book written about John and a movie about him as well, yet you only have a 1 hour podcast to tell his story. How do you choose?

• Do you believe you have to entice listeners at the start to keep them listening? If so, how do you do it?

• I find that you have a great partnership with Breakmaster Cylinder and think that their music really suits the style of the show. Not only that, their music really helps drive home the point sometimes. Like in the latest episode, I find that the “India Theme” really sets the tone. How do you decide on the music? And is there a certain way that you use it (in terms of fading it in or when exactly to play it)

• Could you explain more in-depth on how you guys lay out the story to each other? From what I understand, one person does the research and tells the other on-air the entire thing, in order to still have shock value.

Thanks for answering these questions. I’m a huge fan of the show and finding out more about your creative process would really mean a lot to me!

Replyallalex17 karma

These are all questions for PJ and Tim if they end up showing up

chuckamagee8 karma

Classic PJ to let you answer all kinds of questions from strangers, am I right?!

Replyallalex13 karma


BreezyBlink35 karma

Have you seen anything Zardulu-esque as of late?

Replyallalex88 karma

While we were in India, we saw a man standing in the middle of a highway in a suit looking forlornly into the distance at about 8:30 PM

thebesther33 karma

Why does everyone make fun of you? Do you deserve it?

Replyallalex96 karma

Because they know I'll get annoyed. Of course I don't deserve it. I'm a super cool dude.

sushidenim32 karma

Hey guys I feel like you've kinda perfected the co-host dynamic that Radiolab sorta pioneered and I'm a huge fan. So since you guys work together and probably sir in porch meetings together and everything, how much of your on-tape reactions are genuine vs theatrical? I know that Jad and Robert have openly admitted that a lot of their reactions aren't always candid in the moment. I hope I'm not killing the magic for anybody haha

Replyallalex54 karma

It's genuine! Our editorial meetings involve a lot of one of us leaving so the other can pitch a story and then trading places. It's can be really annoying, but it's worth it for Tim to be the keeper of all knowledge so we can make our on tape exchanges more genuine.

thebesther31 karma

How can I find the PJ to my Alex? All my friends are too nice to me.

Replyallalex59 karma

You want your friends to be meaner to you?

zuckerkornz29 karma

Before the trip, did you consider having a native speaker travel with you? It seems like things really started rolling once Snigdha helped out.

Replyallalex25 karma

We worked with some native speakers, but we didn't hire a fixer. Reasonable people may disagree with the wisdom of that decision!

BreezyBlink25 karma

Alex, how do you come up with your genius tweets? Is PJ jealous that you are the superior tweeter?

Replyallalex36 karma

I apply my savage intellect to our crazy workaday world!

ScottyF31122 karma

Did you feel betrayed by Kamal? By the end of the first part it seemed like you were buddies, but then he turned out to be a bullshit artist.

Replyallalex48 karma

More annoyed than betrayed. I'm not sure if I trusted him completely, but having him lie to my face for a week and then have the audacity, after I caught him out, to tell me that he had nothing to do with the first call I received really annoyed me.

poot18222 karma

How often do you kill stories because they just don't go anywhere? Were there any specific stories that were really hard to let go?

Replyallalex28 karma

We kill more than half. But we're loathe to mention any we really wanted to do that didn't happen in the hopes that they come together at a later date.

MarkCrystal21 karma

Do you have a set budget for podcasts? I'm always amazed when you buy GPS trackers on jump on a plane to India

How many staff are employed by gimlet?

Replyallalex29 karma

Gimlet has a lot of employees. Close to 90. We do have a budget, but we are afforded a lot of opportunities to try stuff by Gimlet and we really really appreciate it.

fmunkey19 karma

I have to imagine that throughout the process of this story you had a wide range of different emotions. I know that just listening to the episode felt like a rollercoaster. What was it like making this story in regards to the twists and turns it ended up taking?

Also, I broke down laughing when he started reciting the anonymous slogan. That was where I became extremely interested in what happens next. These were a great two episodes, even if it ended up a little dissapointing.

Replyallalex22 karma

It was mostly really exciting when we were reporting in the united states. It felt like putting a puzzle together and slowly seeing the image appear. But once we were in India it became incredibly stressful. That me and Damiano even talk anymore is kind of a miracle.

BreezyBlink19 karma

If Kamal/Alex agreed to play video games with you, would you have done it?

Replyallalex42 karma

Hell yeah. I'd still do it.

cageisdead18 karma

Why do you think they kept agreeing to meet with you?

Replyallalex26 karma

I think they wanted to throw me off the scent of the call center, and to some degree, the more time they spent with me, the less time I spent sniffing around.

cecliacks18 karma

What does PJ gripe about?

Alex, can you record your best imitation of PJ's laugh? (I need a new ringtone...'member ringtones?)

Replyallalex37 karma

PJ mostly gripes about me.

This is PJ's laugh in written form. HUEHUEHUEHUE

Juarren18 karma

This two parter was enthralling start to finish(Headphone Bars!?!?)...3 Qs: -On average, How many stories do you have cooking at once?
-What does your field recording gear consist of? -What's the green light process for a pitch like? Does Alex Blumberg approve each one before you start...say... buying plane tickets to India?

Replyallalex19 karma

-On average, How many stories do you have cooking at once? Anywhere from 5-20 in various states of completion by various producers.

-What does your field recording gear consist of? A Rode NTG2 shotgun microphone, Sony Monitor headphones and the Marantz PMD 660.

sushidenim17 karma

What audio editing software do you guys use for the show and what do you recommend for beginners?

Replyallalex37 karma

We use Pro Tools, which is insanely expensive and not worth it. Audacity is free, but I find it very hard to use. A lot of very talented and brilliant producers that I know use Reaper, which is a lot cheaper than Pro Tools but is still really really versatile. It kind of depends on how serious you are about it as a beginner. Each piece of software has its own hot keys/quirks/learning curve, so switching from one to the other is totally possible, but can require a lot of ... kind of getting used to new interfaces and getting up to speed on how the program works.

hsubox14 karma

One of the things I love most about your show is that you have this deep curiosity I find really rare these days, where you don't just stop at a funny headline or shocking story and start making jokes and spouting "takes". You guys hold off making conclusions or explaining "what this says about society today" (at least initially) and just dig and dig and dig and find all these things when so many other people would assume there's nothing more interesting to the story than the initial shocking headline. It's amazing to find that even in the most WTF headline stories, there are hidden stories behind them that are even more fascinating.

Do you guys ever feel bummed about how so many people out there just don't seem to have this curiosity? Not just that they don't "read past the headlines" but just the whole resignation to the idea there isn't anything behind the headlines to find? It's not a moral judgement about how everyone's so quick to judge but I feel like it makes the world feel emptier and less full of wonder. What can we do to get people to be more curious, just keep sharing Reply All style stories to let them know there's treasures to be found?

Thanks! Love the show!

Replyallalex16 karma

I love to be proven wrong in a story. It's humbling, it makes for great radio, it gives the story and me as a person in the story more depth. I like learning things too. I know so much more about the world now that I've been working on this show than I did before! I can't speak for others and I wouldn't want to. But I'm not interested in tearing people or ideas down before I give them an opportunity to show themselves. Does that even make sense?

elkanor14 karma

How has /u/pjvogt missed that Silent Discos have been a thing for over a decade now? When are you taking him to one?

How did Damiano hone his keen survival instinct?

(Also, thanks for great, interesting, funny episodes. You two make my favorite podcasts.)

Replyallalex24 karma

PJ doesn't dance or sing. So no clubs and no karaoke. Kind of a bummer honestly.

Damiano just doesn't have the complete lack of preservation instinct that I have. His survival instinct is that of a normal human

ladylee6132113 karma

Is Club Road just full of clubs? Did you guys secretly go to Headphones every night and silently dance your hearts out?

Replyallalex17 karma

Club road is named as such cuz there's a big country club on one side!

KaptainKoala13 karma

Through all your interactions with Kamal, which one do you think was the "real" Kamal. Was it the fun laid back video game playing Alex or the stern right hand man to the boss?

Do you think he was being honest with you when he talked about quitting and moving back home and his personality changes when he's around Deepak?

Replyallalex37 karma

I think he was probably a funny, smart, opportunist who was also kind of a jerk and had a mean streak. I don't think for a second he quit and moved back home.

schmeeeschmeh13 karma

Love the show! I listen to it with my 13 yr old on the way to and from school. He thinks you guys are the coolest (me too!). What would you say to your 13 year old selves if you had the chance?

Replyallalex26 karma

Be less afraid of looking stupid. Take chances, because that's the only way to accomplish anything great.

captnRon1312 karma

Can you hire jason mantzoukas full time?

Replyallalex27 karma

Heynong man

JMLiber12 karma

There's a ton of suspense built up in the first part and I was predicting what I thought would happen. On that note, I have two questions:

1) During the initial spam call, did you predict that it would be the topic of, seemingly, the most popular episode of your show thus far?

2) What did you think would happen when you went to India? Did your predictions come true?

There's always a lot of behind-the-scenes work that can be very surprising or interesting, but doesn't make the final cut of the show. Did anything like that happen throughout this story?

Replyallalex16 karma

1) Absolutely not. I thought I had just recorded a funny phone call. It was Tim Howard who was like "CALL BACK CALL BACK" 2) We were operating on the assumption that they found us annoying and not a threat. Naively we thought we might be able to get easily into the offices and chat with people there, maybe even make a call pretending to be them. We knew that there was a potential for violence, but we were just so naive. Our predictions definitely didn't make the final cut.

caseoats11 karma

Y'all went the fuck off on these episodes. I love you guys and look forward to all your episodes! Did you get crazy adrenaline rushes while doing these episodes? I can't imagine

Replyallalex9 karma

Mostly incredible stress stomach cramps while we were in India.

scuba_mafuckin_steve10 karma

Can I get a rough estimate on how many times Alex has tripped in his life?

Replyallalex14 karma

under 50, over 20

itslazza10 karma

Hi guys! Reply All was the first Gimlet podcast I got into and now I'm fully down the rabbit hole with a ton of your other shows.

I love audio journalism, and I'm dead set on going into it after I graduate (I'm currently a sophomore history/journalism double major at Northwestern). Do you have any advice for those looking to enter the industry? It seems like it's good time to get into audio journalism as there are all these new opportunities, but I'm curious on your thoughts.

Replyallalex16 karma

Apply for a million internships. Every one of us, pretty much, started doing internships for shows you are familiar with. There's more opportunity in this field than ever, and a lot of bigger public radio stations pay their interns which is really cool (WNYC does now, didn't when I was an intern there), so yeah. Do an internship!

-Chinchillax-10 karma

How did you pass the time on the flights to and from India?

Replyallalex29 karma

Mostly slept. I also watched Logan like 3 times.

KaptainKoala9 karma

Great episodes, I am not a screen writer but I think Long Distance could be turned into a movie. What are your thoughts if someone approached you and wanted to make a thriller called "Call Center" with some very similar plot points?

Replyallalex15 karma

They have my blessing, I guess? I don't know. It would be a trip to have someone make a movie based on one of my stories, but I would try not to get too attached. Generally the finished product looks nothing like the thing I made.

Homelesscrunch9 karma

I accidently binged through your show over the past few weeks when I discovered it like a month ago. So I've got a couple questions:

  1. Favorite podcast of all time? or just your inspiration to get into this work. Which you have probably answered. If so, feel free to just ignore this question.

  2. So do you guys have any idea what's going to become of Accostings, Kamal, and Deepak? Like, are they in any serious trouble?

  3. Most importantly, for PJ: did you have to listen to Alex take a shit when you had the spyware installed on his phone?

Replyallalex11 karma

  1. Probably this american life. Or Analyze Phish.
  2. Don't know yet.
  3. Oh god, I didn't even consider that.

someBrad9 karma

Big fan. I've enjoyed every episode of Reply All and TLDR before it. I think all of the segments are great, but I get super excited for every Yes Yes No. Will you please spin YYN off into it's own show with weekly episodes so I can get more YYN in my life without giving up other great Reply All content?

Also, since it seems every Gimlet show is being developed for TV, who would Alex cast as PJ and vice versa?

Replyallalex18 karma

I wanna be played by Wesley Snipes. PJ should be played by Ian Mckellan

someBrad16 karma

I would watch Super Tech Support the show with Snipes solving people's problems and McKellen asking dumb questions.

Replyallalex20 karma

Oh my god me too

AudioFlag7 karma

Y'all have been one of my go-to podcasts since TL;DR and this simply was the best podcasting I've had the pleasure of listening to.

Did you and Kamal ever get to play CS:GO or TF2?

Follow up - gonna be recovering from a back surgery for three weeks starting on Tuesday and will be bored as hell. Any chance you would you be down to play a couple games of CS or TF2 with a completely different stranger from the Internet?

Replyallalex22 karma

PM me your screen name.

SteverenoZed7 karma

What was your favorite episode to make?

Replyallalex13 karma

When it wasn't super stressful, this episode was a lot of fun to make. Zardulu was a ton of fun to make because it just felt like it came together in a really satisfying way very quickly

maxtmaples7 karma

Have you met BMC in person???

Replyallalex23 karma

There is no BMC

cyberiggy7 karma

Alex, any intentions to follow up on this story in the near future? More investigation? Another possible trip to that area?

These were by far my favorite episodes. I really hope there's more on this. I feel empty now the way it ended.

Replyallalex14 karma

I don't think I'll be going back to India but since the story came out I've gotten a lot of interesting leads. Maybe a follow up?

BearPawB6 karma

Love the show. I get a thrill when the notification pops on my phone.

How bummed will the office be if Coke Zero Sugar isn't as good as Coke Zero?

Replyallalex11 karma

Very bummed. PJ way more than me, but I'll still be really sad.

Silverdaize5 karma

Can we talk about Breakmaster Cylinder?

Replyallalex3 karma

Better not

5b3ll5 karma

Hey Alex and PJ! Huge fan of the show, Takeover is probably my favorite episode until now.

Were you and Damiano prepared before you went to India for any potentially dangerous situations? It seemed to really take you guys by surprise how jarred Snigdha was by the whole thing.

Also, PJ - why the fuck did Wikipedia say you were a fictional character?

Sneaky edit: Alex - how involved in Homecoming are you? I've loved the show since it was released and the second season is great so far!

Replyallalex12 karma

I knew it could be dangerous, but these guys had been so ... gregarious. The turns that they made as we got closer were surprising.

PJ is a fictional character invented by novelist Helen Dale. It's crazy but true.

I am 0 involved in Homecoming except that I'm emotionally involved in it because I really really like it.

seabass05 karma

Fantastic story guys. Really loved both episodes.

Question: What was the plan when you got up to the door of Accostings? How were you going to get past security? Who were you going to talk to? I was on the edge of my seat during that whole sequence.

Replyallalex9 karma

Our plan was to pretend we were American tourists and say we were looking for the other one club road, the meditation center. Then e were going to try and charm our way in for a second.

ticky134 karma

Obviously, for this story, it has been in the works for six months.

Generally speaking though, how long does it take to produce an episode from concept to the final audio file? How many episodes are in production at any one time?

Replyallalex5 karma

It varies fantastically from story to story. Sometimes two days, sometimes two years. We have maybe a dozen+ stories in various states at any time.

blueincubus4 karma

Hey guys - with all the publicity and word of mouth you guys have got over the last week or so - is this your most popular episode so far? Awesome episode btw - haven't laughed so much in ages.

Replyallalex6 karma

Too early to say whether this was the most popular episode, but it has been getting alot of attention.

touko224 karma

I love your show but I felt really conflicted listening to the call center episodes because I felt there was an underlying current of white privilege in them. What the scammers do is obviously wrong, but I can't help feeling for them, like they are the Rebel Alliance to white America's Empire. Were you conscious of your race at any point during your interactions with the Indian scammers?

Replyallalex6 karma

I think a person can be in a desperate situation and still do bad things that should be stopped. I think that I can be in a place of cultural and racial privilege and still have righteous anger about being scammed. I was absolutely conscious of race, class, and cultural gaps during the reporting of this story. But I didn't feel particularly bad for Kamal or Deepak, both of whom exploited people who were in much more desperate situations than they were.

Likewise, I recognize both that people answering the phone were in desperate situations, and that blaming me for Hiroshima is funny.

monkey2guns4 karma

How did you and PJ meet?

Replyallalex8 karma

He was a per diem and I was an intern at a WNYC/NPR radio show called On the Media. We worked there together for four years.

Bslo183 karma

Absolutely LOVE the podcast and these last two episodes were both equally stressful and thrilling to listen to. Between this, your experience in the episode "Black Hole, NJ," and "Todays the Day," you guys have a habit of approaching buildings without knowing whats on the other side.

On to the questions, what made you and PJ want to get into audio/journalism to begin with? And Alex, what was the scariest and/or most stressful part of this entire experience?

Replyallalex10 karma

I think PJ would probably say the same thing as me - This American Life made me want to get into radio journalism. I was a journalism major in college, but mainly because I liked cultural criticism. I wanted to be a great culture critic. My interest in investigation came later.

And that second dinner -- or maybe the roof? Definitely the most stressful

tripped1443 karma

Did you have to fight the urge of becoming too friendly with the call center owner?

Replyallalex7 karma

No. He was friendly in a way where you could see he was only doing it to get to me, to see what I was up to. He was feeling me out, nothing more. (to be fair, I was doing the same thing)

_sch3 karma

Why did you let them remote in to your real computer, rather than setting up a VM or a separate machine for the purpose? Was that a spur of the moment decision, or did you ponder it first?

Replyallalex3 karma

I didnt know how the scam worked and when they wanted to do it I just made a decision in the moment. And once I realized they didn't do anything, letting them connect became significantly less stressful.

safety10113 karma

Great job, loved the episode.

One thing I kept asking myself during the conclusion... what do you think kamal & co. Hoped to achieve by inviting you to India? It seemed very short sighted... were they expecting to scare two journalists into silence?? I imagine that if I ran a call center scam, I'd want to fly under the radar-- not invite journalists to my doorstep. What are your thoughts on this

Also- do you feel that your decision to leave a virtual bag of shit on their doorstep potentially endangered your fixer that got you the address in any way? Thanks and looking forward to hearing more episodes

Ps- love the outro of episode 2 lol

Replyallalex4 karma

Snigdha used a fake name to do the job interview, and has publicly called out call centers before, so I think she was not endangered. Also we asked her before using her name in the story.

Surf_Science2 karma

What's the strangest Super Tech Support suggestion you couldn't follow up on?

Replyallalex5 karma

I don't want to give away the stories we havent reported on yet, because one day we might figure out a way to do them!

maniexx2 karma

Are you planning another call-in show? I loved the 48h one. So bummed I didn't know about it, that now I have notifications for your tweets.

Replyallalex2 karma

No plans in the future. It's very very tiring. That might have been a one time thing!

thepuck042 karma

Any chance we'll ever get to see the infamous desktop photo? It'd be cool to see some of the pictures you found and described on the first episode.

Replyallalex2 karma

Maybe some day...