Telephone / Computer Scam – a warning

This telephone scam is really active right now. I’ve had several calls in just a couple of days.

I will include a few hotlinks so you can check out the facts for yourself:

This one is from Microsoft.

This one is a tech support forum answer regarding the website they’ll ask you to visit, during the scam phone call.

This is a Wikipedia article on LOGMEIN. It appears that the website above is hosted there. I found this out by using IDServe (from Gibson Research Corp, where it is a freebee) on the website url, and then using an IP address lookup on the IP I got via IDServe.

Now for the scam and its variations.

The phone call begins by asking how you are, then explaining what company is calling (which varies, sometimes Microsoft, sometimes Computer Support, once a government agency which regulates something.) Then you are told that over the past few days your computer has been generating a lot of complaints and error messages.

Asked how the telephone number was found, various answers are given. One caller told me they had a database linking IP addresses to phone numbers. Perhaps because I said that was impossible (my phone is independent of my internet provider) they stopped using this one. Another answer is, that some ID on your operating system is visible to them and clearly identifies your phone number. It’s all balderdash, of course.

(They do not know your IP address. It’s pretty hard to trace anything without the source IP address, unless you eMail or send information in a text file.)

They will then attempt to get you to give them access to your computer, remotely, using the support.me website.

Sometimes they start by having you hit the Windows key and r and running eventvwr. This program is part of windows and will show you a lot of recorded events. They hope this will panic you.

Sometimes they try to get you to use the Run command on an IP address.

Sometimes they try to get you to go to the website support.me and log in. If you do this, you will be asked to give them remote access to your computer.

Do not do this.   (of course.)

Several years ago, a relative (who must have been dog-tired to make such a move) allowed a scam like this. He was then shown a virus on his computer, and had to pay them by credit card to get it taken off.

Sometimes you are passed to a ‘senior technician’ whose English accent is a bit closer to mine. This is supposed to impress you. Don’t let it.

Sometimes they tell you they are in your city (Toronto) despite having blocked caller ID.

When there is a phone number, I have reported it to our do-not-call list. I have been contacted back and passed on to Canada’s phone fraud team, who ensure me that the fraud is well-known. I am supposed to infer that they are doing something about it. I’m not sure that is the case.

I am a b..t..d with respect to these callers. I waste as much of their time as possible, as they are paid by calls-per-hour and by sucker count. (I think all call centres pay in this way; my daughter once worked for one that argued, successfully, for reduced business property taxes in areas where they were pretty sure MPAC had over-assessed.)

Sometimes they want you to hit the windows key. They are so patronizing: look at the lower left corner of your keyboard. Do you see a key marked C T R L? what key is next to that? (When I tell them, Alt, they have had a number of responses. There is no windows key on my old, PS2, IBM keyboard. Windows key = Ctrl-Esc. I have been accused of lying at this point). Sometimes they want you to use the start menu.

Sometimes I ask them, how much of their time must I waste before they give up on this call. One persistent individual refused to hear this question about six times. Then the profanity started. I implied that the call, all my calls, were monitored by the police. I suspect that this is actually the case due to my multiple reports of this fraud.

Handle the call as you see fit. If you’re on a do-not-call list, complain to your regulator. But don’t give anyone remote access to your machine.

Have a nice day.

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