A few weeks ago, I was trying to call Cuba. I got an error message—which, okay, international telephone codes are long and my fingers are clumsy—but the phone oddly started dialing again before I could hang up. A voice answered. It had a British accent and it was reading: “...the moon was shining brightly. The Martians had taken away the excavating-machine…”
Apparently, I had somehow called into an audiobook of The War of the Worlds.
The recordings can be random. “We get everything from fake rings, heavy breathing, adult entertainment, lottery reading, psychic readings, music—so random recordings,” said one veteran industry fraud analyst. The goal is just to get people to stay on the phone as long as possible.