Here’s a crime for modern times: make the transmission of an intentionally false Caller-ID message a minor criminal offence.

There’s an established mechanism for blocking identity through caller ID, namely the “Private Number” message. Therefore the only conceivable use of false information is to mislead the person being called. Most of the fraudulent calls I receive use bogus, rather than private numbers.

But what should the penalty be? How about something proportional to the impact on the victim? In and of itself, direct victim impact is pretty small, so how about three hours in jail per occurrence?

What, you say that’s ridiculously low? Well then how about this: mandatory consecutive terms, no concurrent sentences. Fraudsters have to make a large number of calls in order to find victims (see footnote). Three hours in jail works out to about a year for every three thousand calls. These guys need to make tens of thousands of calls a day, so in a month or so they could easily rack up a sentence in excess of their entire lifespan.

A slap on the wrist for people who flirt with the idea, major hard time for the fraudsters. Works for me.

Footnote: One operation I led on started with an automated dialler, transfered to a “qualifier” who made sure I had a credit card, and then transfered to a “closer”, who was none too thrilled when I finally admitted that I was deliberately wasting their time, eight minutes in.