Phone Scam involving your "Windows Operating System". How does it work?
May 28, 2014 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Phone computer scam?

So somehow my number was obtained by some third-rate phone scam operation in which a person (sounding to be from India) calls to inform you that their "system" has detected a virus and in your "Windows Operating System". They then attempt to get you to visit a website and I assume divulge personal information.
Maybe this has happened to you. What are they after and how does the scam work? It;s so obviously fake but no doubt it works on some ignorant folks. I usually use the opportunity to improvise new forms of verbal abuse on the caller or put the phone up to my speakers and crank some Black Metal but is there any other, more effective way, to deter them?
posted by Liquidwolf to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Chairboy at 4:21 PM on May 28, 2014

I searched for a previous and couldnt find it. Adios.
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:22 PM on May 28, 2014

One thing that I've read about scams is that the ones that involve a significant effort on the scammers' end (like the Nigerian prince scams, or ones like this where they call you) are often designed to bereally obviously fake so that they only ensnare the most gullible people. They don't want to waste effort with someone who is going to be like "a ha! this is a scam!" halfway through.
posted by radioamy at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't even bother with talking back to them or playing music or whatever.

Instead, I receive the call, say hello, and if they're scammers, I don't say anything else. Just let them talk into air. I have unlimited minutes, so I do this until they hang up - which is only after a minute or two.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:25 PM on May 28, 2014

What are they after and how does the scam work?

They tell you over the phone your pc has a virus. They convince you to install their 'special remote support tool' to let them diagnose it, i.e. teamviewer. They remote into your pc while you watch, tell you they're going to scan for viruses; instead they pull up some techy looking stuff like the event viewer, or list all the files in a system directory - which they tell you is proof that you have 340 serious viruses that are sharing all your personal data on the internet etc etc. They then tell you they can clean all that up for you right now, just go to their website and pay $300 for a service cleanup. If you're lucky, they actually run a free AV suite for you and call it a day. They probably actually do sod all. If you're unlucky, they then use the access you gave them to then do much nastier stuff to your computer.

They do seem to prefer to try and avoid outright abusive acts though; 'we just charged them for a service they asked us to do!' aka the 'I'm a builder who was working nearby and saw your roof needed a lot of work before it starts leaking badly, how about I do you a quote?' defence. Presumably they get less charge-backs that way.

And yes, it's intended to be pretty obvious to any semi-literate IT user that its bullshit, they only want to snare the truly unaware/gullible so that they'll willingly pay up and walk away without making a fuss. They prey in particular on the old, as such scams often do.

If you want them to go away, just tell them that you work in IT security, and they'll hang up on you.

If you want to waste 10 minutes of their time (which is about the only thing that really hurts them) act all concerned and dumb, and completely fail to download their remote software, before 'revealing' that you don't have an internet connection.

If you want to really yank their chain, give them access to a spare virtual machine without local network access, and play along being as stupid and slow and gullible as you can get away with (and you can get away with a lot) up until it comes to paying up. Then go '$300?? By the way, I've been recording all this, and I'm reporting you to the police for fraud.' and listen to them try and wriggle out of it.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:05 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

And if you do go to the trouble to set up a virtual machine, throw a zip bomb on there and name it "bank info" or something like that.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:21 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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