Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anatomy of a Scam

One of our lead technicians, Chris Ludington, was on an onsite call at one of our client’s this past week to address a networking issue. As he was leaving, the secretary notified him that someone with a heavy Indian accent was on the phone claiming that there was a problem with one of their office computers. Chris thought that was odd seeing how he had already fixed their problem so he asked our client to allow him to speak to this person to see what was up.

Chris did not tell the person he was a computer technician and played dumb, which, if you know Chris, is not very hard to do (ha ha). The very nice on the other end of the phone proceeded to tell Chris that our client’s office computers had sent a message to their computers informing them that there were problems that could be alleviated if the customer visited their website,
Chris asked the nice person how they knew the customer had issues. He was told that Microsoft has a special bit of software built into Windows that sends out problem reports. Chris asked them how they obtained the client’s phone number and the criminal told Chris that this information was also included in Microsoft’s report. This is utterly bogus, of course. Chris finally told the “technician” who he was and, if I know Chris, probably told them to go stick their head in a sand dune for a few hours before hanging up the phone.

SystemRecure is a scam, of course. If our client hadn’t been on her toes that day she may have fallen for it. I’m sure the scammers would have corrected the non-existent problem. Whiel they were at it, the probably would have also created a few more problems that “were not in the initial report” and extort a few more dollars to fix those issues as well. Criminals are predictable like that.

The bottom line is that if you receive a phone call warning you that your computer is infected, please hang up on them so hard that their ears bleed. These kinds of scams are on a very sharp increase since 2008. As computer users wizen up about fake antivirus pop-ups on their computers, the criminals are having a little difficulty finding gullible people and are resorting to cold calling. So if you haven’t received a call from them, you probably will.

While I on the subject of nice criminals with heavy Indian accents, hardly a day goes by in my office that someone claiming to be from AT&T phones me to offer to “update my Yellow Pages” listing. If you have EVER received a call from someone with a heavy Indian accent claiming to be a representative of AT&T or Bellsouth hang up on them. They are scammers, too. Once they have your recorded voice okay-ing the “free” service, they will use that recording to “prove” that you signed up for some useless monthly service that will automatically be billed to your phone bill. I recommend you check your phone bill and call AT&T if you see anything suspicious. Please don’t ask me how I know all this.

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