Samantha West works for Premier Health Plans Inc., selling health insurance over the phone. Her voice is friendly, just like your typical telemarketer looking to get you a quote for a decent health insurance policy.
The other thing: she might be a robot.
TIME Magazine reporter Denver Nicks writes that he started getting suspicious when she couldn't answer some relatively simple questions.
"It sounds like a real woman, but she repeats herself over and over again," Nicks says. "Michael [his bureau chief] starts asking her questions like, 'What is the vegetable in tomato soup?' to which she doesn't know the answer."
When asked, point-blank, if she was a robot, "West" vehemently denies, saying that she's a real person and complains of a bad connection.
Nicks says they did manage to get a hold of a live body eventually, but they denied any use of robots and promptly hung up. But we may never know the true motive behind the strategy, as Premier Health Plans Inc. -- and Samantha West's phone line -- disappeared the day after Nicks's story was published.