Saturday, June 15, 2013

Latest Internet Scam

One of my concerns about growing older is that I will become more easily persuadable in regards to scams...  but if that is going to happen, it's still in the future.

Recently, I've been getting nightly phone calls from "Out of Area"... and I'm talking about 4-5 calls per evening.  Thanks to Caller ID, I've not answered any.   Last night, I was fed up with the calls and did take one from "Out of Area" just to see what was up.... AND hopefully get off their call list.

The caller identified himself as "Harry" but given his accent, clearly his real name is wasn't anything close to "Harry."  His accent and background sounds indicated a call center in India.

"Harry" announced he was calling from "Windows Service Center" and that I had a virus on my computer.  Playing along with "Harry" who was definitely reading from a script, I went to my computer and followed instructions to "right click"... "left click" and "scroll down"...  and did I notice any "errors" or "warnings" in the list.

I did...

Next, "Harry" offered to rid my computer of a dangerous virus remotely.  

I informed "Harry" that I had a good anti-virus software program installed but, according to "Harry".. it could not protect me from this bad virus that could obtain financial data from my computer.    "Have you not heard of hackers?"

I informed "Harry" that I wasn't interested in what he was selling.

"Harry" proceeded to warn me that my computer would "crash" if these viruses weren't removed.   "What would you do if your computer crashed?"

I told "Harry" that I would buy a new computer.


Then "Harry" told me that the virus would infect my new computer and what would I do then?

"I'll buy another computer."

*longer pause*

"Harry" started talking faster and I told him I wasn't interested and hung up.   Hopefully, I'll not get any more of these calls.

My daughter and granddaughters are visiting and I told her about the conversation.   She shared that the next door neighbors of her in-laws fell for the scam about a relative (in their case, their son) being in a foreign country and needing them to send money to help him out of trouble.... and they did.  A lot of money...

Warning flags about this call included:
  • MicroSoft does not call people about any problem with their computer.  "Windows" certainly doesn't.
  • Someone who called me wanted to access my computer remotely.    (Heck NO!)
Reading local news this morning, I found that this area is being targeted by this particular scam.  

Computer Fraud Alert

The Fayetteville (NC) Police Department would like to alert citizens of a new trend that has been reported by citizens in our area. Citizens have reported that they have received telephone calls from persons portraying that they are Microsoft employees and are being advised that there is an issue with the Windows application installed on their computer. The caller attempts to get the victim to activate the remote access on the computer, thus giving the “caller” direct access to all of the files on the computer as well as all processes on the computer. Once the caller has obtained remote access, this allows the person to steal protected information from the computer and potentially commit crimes. A link has been listed below in which Microsoft had provided to avoid Tech Support Telephone Scams.

Avoid tech support phone scams

Cybercriminals don’t just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:

• Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
• Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
• Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
• Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes
Telephone tech support scams: What you need to know

Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information is vulnerable.

Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information. Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

• Windows Helpdesk
• Windows Service Center
• Microsoft Tech Support
• Microsoft Support
• Windows Technical Department Support Group
• Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

Report phone scams

Learn about how to report phone fraud in the United States. Outside of the US, contact your local authorities.

I've decided if I get another of these calls, I'm going to...

Be aware of this scam as well as similar ones...  how you handle the cold call is up to you but feel free to tie up the caller's time and have a little fun if you'd like.   I do like the idea of telling them you have a Mac....  but they may have a script for Mac owners as well...


  1. Good warning.
    My parents got one of those "out-of-the-country-and-need-money" calls, supposedly from one of their grandchildren, who happen to travel internationally quite a bit. My Mom said to them, "tell me the names of your children" and they hung up. Smart Mom!! : )

  2. Go going! Tie up their time and waste their dimes. There are several of these things I more forwarding jokes, or good ones via email---they can get into your contact list: or any 20 questions ones that you answer and send back. These are perfect phishing scams for details of your life and possible hints to pass words.
    Absolutely no surveys answered via telephone either....same reason.
    We may be getting older, but that just means I am wiser than they are.

  3. Thanks for the alert! I think I had a call like that years ago. Like yours, the accent and the name didn't go together right, and he couldn't pronounce the name of the city he was claiming to be from - giant flag! I hung up. Okay, you think that's rude, but think what that caller was about to do... worse than rude. Since then I have hung up on all kinds of sales folks, too. I don't have money to "invest" so I save them the time. Sorry, I have better things to do than wait to hear all you've got to say, and still don't have money for your product. I see the commenters above are wise about their calls, too. Good for us!

  4. I was reading this thinking "just tell them you have a Mac and wouldn't touch Windows with a barge pole". I bet "Harry" would be so flumoxed he wouldn't have a clue what to say next!

    By the way, I do use a Mac and wouldn't touch Windows with a barge pole! tee hee

  5. LOL, we've had these cals in Australia as well, it depends on the mood I'm in as to how I handle it, sometimes I do as Anne (aka the tartan bee) suggested and say I have a Mac, or sometimes I play along and do as you did, but I pretend I don't know what I'm doing and then say "oh no, there is a blue screen and a message, wait and I'll go and reboot the computer, then I just leave the phone hanging there for 20 minutes or so, and carry on with whatever I was doing. Another good one is to answer the phone in a foreign language, that really bamboozles them :)

  6. An elderly relative was hit with the "grandson in trouble" and sent a LOT of money also. My mother is the one who heard of the relative's plight and told me. I immediately told her and my father to ask the caller the answer to a particular question that no one but our family would know. If the caller does not know the answer...hang up. If they say they are not the relative in trouble, but are calling for them...tell them to go ask the relative in trouble the particular question and call you back. I bet you never get a call back. And make absolutely sure it is something off the wall enough that it can't be guessed. Tell your family that asking the name of your first dog, when it's name was "Spot" is not a good question. Make sure it is something really off the wall and something ONLY close family members would know.

  7. My father has received two of those 'Grandpa, I'm in trouble' calls. Dad simply told them he'd call us for him. They hung up immediately.

    I will never tire of news stations warning folks about these scams. Too many are getting hurt by these thieves.

  8. Good for you! LOL! Love to-a been a fly on the wall there. I also have caller id, and see those out of area calls; I usually let 'em ring, but next time I will play a bit...maybe answer and speak in Russian. Great post!

  9. Hi Freda........
    We get those calls here too.
    I always tell them that I don't have a computer.......that really annoys them and they hang up.

  10. If we get such a call I will say that we don't own a computer!!! Good for you for knowing better.

  11. My mom got targeted last week.. Slightly different in that she got a very legitimate looking pop-up telling her to contact Microsoft with a 1-800 number.. Stupidly she called and gave them remote access and paid them $300..lucily she emailed me the same day and told I her to call visa and log the payment as fraud and then she took her computer back to staples who will fix it and return it to factory standards... She was convinced it was ligit and felt quite embarrassed that she fell for it.