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 Warning: "you are infected" phones calls are scams
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BigDOGGe
Administrator
MY PC

USA
566 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2012 :  09:58:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To date I have received 2 of these calls at home maybe a month or 2 apart. In both cases the guy, with a strong Indian accent, couldn't clearly explain to me HOW his company know my PC was infected (it wasn't, by the way). I just heard a lot of bull, finally telling him he was full of it and hanging up. The second time he called I didn't even waste my time.

After the second call I did some research and found this new scam is quite common.

Be forewarned. Any "your computer is infected" phone call you get is bogus. Hang up!


quote:

Virus phone scam being run from call centres in India

Cold callers pretending to be from Microsoft phoning to fix a fake computer problem





.


Beware cold callers claiming your computer has a virus.


The scam always starts the same way: the phone rings at someone's home, and the caller usually with an Indian accent asks for the householder, quoting their name and address before saying "I'm calling for Microsoft. We've had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer."


Dire forecasts are made that if the problem is not solved, the computer will become unusable.


The puzzled owner is then directed to their computer, and asked to open a program called "Windows Event Viewer". Its contents are, to the average user, worrying: they look like a long list of errors, some labelled "critical". "Yes, that's it," says the caller. "Now let me guide you through the steps to fixing it."


The computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote control of the computer, and the caller "installs" various "fixes" for the problem. And then it's time to pay a fee for a "subscription" to the "preventative service".


The only catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer, the caller is not working for Microsoft or the internet service provider, and the owner has given a complete stranger access to every piece of data on their machine.


An investigation has established that this scam, which has been going on quietly since 2008 but has abruptly grown in scale this year, is being run from call centres based in Kolkata, by teams believed to have access to sales databases from computer and software companies.


Matt, a Londoner who has recently set up his own company, had just arrived home at 7pm when the phone rang and someone with an Indian accent asked for him by name, quoting his address. "It's Windows tech support here," said the caller. "We have reason to believe that there's a problem with your computer. There have been downloads of malware and spyware, and they're slowing down your computer."

He went along with the caller's demands to log into a website and enter a six-digit code into his computer. "I thought it was a new service from [Microsoft] Windows," he said. "I could see them moving the cursor about. It took about half an hour."


The caller could not have obtained Matt's name via HP or PC World, where he bought the machine, because he gave his business address, not his home address, during the purchase.

This suggests that the caller was using the phonebook to find names. Patrick McCarthy, who lives in Dublin, received a call from one of the companies but they addressed him by the name of the apartment block where he lives instead of his own name, a longstanding error in the Irish phone book.


Often, the victims are inexperienced or elderly, convinced by the apparent authority of the callers and the worrying contents of the Event Viewer. In fact, such "errors" are not indicative of any problems.

.

Investigators say that one man, based in the city of Kota in Rajasthan, is behind the centres running the scams.

He has provided fake documentation to a number of payment companies including PayPal and Alertpay, a Montreal-based online payment company, to set up accounts which route money to a bank account in Kota with Axis Bank.


Though people on dozens of web forums have recorded their experiences with the scammers, police and trading standards officers in the UK are powerless to stop them.

UK telephone numbers for contacting the company on the sites are not "geographical" #8209; tied to a location #8209; but instead allocated to voice-over-internet providers.

That means that the calls connect internationally, but cost the scammers almost nothing when anyone calls them.

In the same way, it costs them virtually nothing to make the calls because the international part of the call goes via the internet.


If the payment has been made on a debit card #8209; as many are #8209; there is no hope of reversing the payment. A number of payment organisations used by the scammers have shut down their accounts. PayPal, the eBay-owned credit transfer company, and AlertPay have both taken rapid action against scam sites which used them.

.

In March, site hosting company Hostgator shut down one of the longest-running sites used for the alleged scam, F1Compstepuk.com, after complaints.

After confirming with Microsoft that the site was not acting for it, Hostgator immediately shut it down. Josh Loe, Hostgator's co-founder, said that following the initial complaint, "we asked for more information regarding this to confirm. We received a message from a Microsoft representative via this particular person who contacted us first about this. At that time it was enough evidence to close the site and it was done so the same day."

But one investigator who has been tracking the growth of the scam says the challenge is that new sites offering the same fake "service" keep popping up "like mushrooms".

At first the scammers tried desperately to maintain the reputation of their sites, by flooding any forum which garnered enough criticism of their activities with postings claiming that the site helped fix their machine.

But the poor spelling and grammar of the replies allied to internet addresses which show that the commenters are based in India contrasted sharply with that of people in the UK, US and Australia complaining about the attempted scam.

Now they have shifted to creating multiple sites from templates, using stock phrases and photos. However, investigators are sure that the same man #8209; and central operation #8209; is behind all of the schemes. "I don't think that this could really have spread that far. Even if they can see that some of their friends are making money from this, the calls are too similar every time," said one. "It's got to be the same organisation each time."

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Microsoft denies any connection with the companies that call people up offering these services.

When contacted about the scams, Microsoft said it was "currently investigating a series of instances in which the business practices of an organisation within the Microsoft Partner Network [that] have given rise to significant concerns from a number of sources. We take matters such as these extremely seriously and will take any action that is appropriate once our investigation is complete."


Three weeks after being contacted, it issued another statement: "We confirm that we have taken action to terminate our relationship with certain partners who are clearly misrepresenting their relationship with us and using our company name in order to facilitate their telephone scam operations."

However, this week, two sites alleged to be involved were still listed as "Microsoft Gold Certified Partners", which Microsoft says means that they must have "demonstrated expertise" and "must employ a minimum number of Microsoft Certified Professionals".

The company has noticed the problem. "Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer," it says on its website.

"If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls."



outbackshaq
Better Poster
MY PC

Canada
380 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2012 :  01:44:05 AM  Show Profile  Click to see outbackshaq's MSN Messenger address  Send outbackshaq a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I got one of these calls when I got home from being away for a week. all the pcs were off during that time. He refused to tell me what program needed updating. and Concluding that none of my pcs needed that kind of thing I told him to have a nice day and goodbye

There's always a work around ;)
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KC
Head Honcho
MY PC

USA
3052 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2012 :  07:04:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did you happen to catch the caller ID?

Besides both my phones having caller ID my 63" TV pops up the caller ID on the top left of the screen when a call comes in as well. Hahaha it freaks people out when the phone rings and the persons name and # pop up in 4" tall letters on my TV screen ;-}

I heard about this several weeks back but had no calls which I find surprising considering how many places my name and phone number are posted on-line.

Anyway you guys know how I am with scammers, I like to toy with them ;-}



KC's Kruisers - It's all how you look at things
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outbackshaq
Better Poster
MY PC

Canada
380 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2012 :  12:48:57 PM  Show Profile  Click to see outbackshaq's MSN Messenger address  Send outbackshaq a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hmm. it did come up on caller ID. I didn't write down the number, but I tweeted the name "cylon" which is what came up as the name on my caller ID. I doubt it'd be as simple as finding the number and arresting the owner of that number anyhow :/

There's always a work around ;)
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WheelSmoke
Advanced Member
MY PC

USA
1255 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2012 :  3:24:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I usually just sound interested and then say 'can you hang on a second' and set the phone down for a few minute.

It gets really funny when you get to do a couple times because there job is to keep you on the line or whatever...

Plus it stops that dialer from connectiong them to the next number.





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BigDOGGe
Administrator
MY PC

USA
566 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2012 :  8:21:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC

Did you happen to catch the caller ID?




I'm not sure having the return number would help.

"UK telephone numbers for contacting the company on the sites are not "geographical" #8209; tied to a location #8209; but instead allocated to voice-over-internet providers.

That means that the calls connect internationally, but cost the scammers almost nothing when anyone calls them.

In the same way, it costs them virtually nothing to make the calls because the international part of the call goes via the internet.

"


Is it possible to trace back such a call?


.

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WheelSmoke
Advanced Member
MY PC

USA
1255 Posts

Posted - 08/25/2012 :  09:55:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

LoL, Those calls sound like they are from the same people who are screwing homeowners for "duct cleaning" in my trade.




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KC
Head Honcho
MY PC

USA
3052 Posts

Posted - 08/27/2012 :  5:53:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is a pretty fun site.
http://www.scn.org/~bk269/data.html


KC's Kruisers - It's all how you look at things
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