Posted by Brother Bob on 6 September, 2023 at 9:44 pm. 4 comments already!


I’m officially back from my August News Cleanse, so you might be wondering what I was watching / listening to as I did my best to ignore current events. We generally use the month of August to get a subscription to HBO Max for a month, watch whatever we like & cancel. Apparently this model scares the shazbot out of Hollywood, as their subscription business model is built on sustained subscriptions. So if you want to watch something on Netflix, Hulu, etc. but don’t want to support Hollywood, this is how you hurt them. But that’s not the point of this post. Spoilers ahead, but theirs isn’t that kind of story. If it’s important to you, watch the show and come back – I’ll be here.

Max has a limited mini series (only three episodes) called “Telemarketers”, about a call center operation running out of New Brunswick (NJ) back in the early 00s, basically a scam using police and firefighter organizations as their front. Although there was some legitimacy to their operations, let’s back up a bit with the IMDB blurb on Telemarketers:

Follows former telemarketing employees Pat Pespas and Sam Lipman-Stern, two longtime office friends who find themselves hot on the trail of a sobering look at the ugly side of American capitalism and the abuse of customer trust.

Shady call center dealings? Crazy Jersey people? You had me at hello! The story starts with some home movies that Sam took while working at his telemarketing company, one that employs mostly recently released felons looking for work. They do some impressively manipulative tactics to raise money for various PBAs and other first responder affiliated charities. To sum up what makes this a scam, it goes along the lines of approaching a PBA and saying, “For whatever your efforts cost, you only raise @ $100K per year. We’ll pay you $200K if we get to keep anything above that.” And they would make far more than that, with the scandal being how little of a very large pie was going to the actual first responders or their families.

The storytelling is great. The videos make it real – the call center is a zoo, with a fair share of low level (leisurely) crime happening among the reps. They show how the groups manipulate people, the skirting of lines along honesty and legality, and how the operation eventually gets shut down. And like a beheaded hydra, several equally corrupt operations sprout up in their place. Sam enlists Pat to create a documentary to expose this business and get the bad guys shut down.  Their adventures span from the streets of Jersey down to various PBA headquarters across the country and to some regulatory agencies in DC. In the end their efforts reach their peak by getting to meet with a US Senator to make their plea to make something happen to curb these con artists.

And they are granted an audience with… Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Yes, that would be Da-Nang Dick himself. Our protagonists find themselves in the Senator’s office, excited for their chance to finally talk to someone who can shine a light on their cause. Blumey meets with them, does a nice job of pretending to give a damn about their concerns, and lies to their faces about how his staff will meet with them. They promptly blow off our narrators, but they walk away happy that they had their moment in the sun, even going so far as Pat hanging a picture of their meeting in his home.

Hopefully this post didn’t post a completely negative picture of what went down. There are little pieces of the story that are very real and very human. Pat is a recovering addict and convict who carries his wife through various health problems. And however unethical these call center may be, they offer job opportunities to otherwise unhireable recently released convicts. And these guys have good intentions and put in real effort toward their goal.

But at the end of the day. the con artists got conned by a seasoned pro that makes their old employers look like amateur hour. Watching their meeting with Da-Nang Dick is almost painful, as you can almost read Blumenthal’s mind where he’s thinking of how quickly he can blow these guys off and get out of the room. And watching these guys still deluding themselves as the staffers blow them off is painful to watch. At the end of the day, Sam and Pat may not have made any change, but it ended on an optimistic note. They felt like getting their story heard by a member of Congress was their victory. But in the end, that meeting accomplished nothing. And that’s the perfect ending to this story. The greatest grifter will rip off their mark, and while walking away the victim will feel like the transaction was actually the mark’s triumph. Sam and Pat may have been excellent grifters, but by the end of Telemarketers they were clearly our of their league in terms of grifting talent.

Brother Bob is no longer on Facebook (although you can see his archives there), and is back on Twitter again, but is ramping up on Minds and Gab, as well as Parler and GETTR, and has his biggest presence on MeWe.

Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog

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