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Technical Support Phone Scam Poses As Microsoft Windows Affiliate Company

Yesterday, i received a telephone call from "Dean Thomas" (probably not his real name) who said he was from the "Technical & Maintenance Department of Windows." The phone number he gave was (209) 813-0133, which I assume was bogus, too.

Immediately, I recognized this phone scam as I had read about it previously in Consumer Reports:

"The scam has become so widespread that Microsoft has studied the problem in four countries, including the U.S. The study found that scammers stole an average of $875 from victims and caused $1,730 in damage to their computers."

Plus, I follow the Better Business Bureau on Twitter, which issued this alert months ago. I decided to listen to the scammer's pitch so I could report about it on this blog.

Basically, the scam artists pretend to be from a reputable company that is seriously interested in protecting you from virus software that can damage your computer. The first part of the pitch is an attempt to gain your confidence -- that they have received error messages already from my computer. After gaining your trust, they will ask you to visit a website, not with your web browser, but the "Run Software" dialog box. Doing so would give them access and control over your computer -- and the freedom to steal any files with passwords and bank accoount sign-in credentials.

With his heavy Southern Asia accent, "Dean" asked me to browse various system registry files (e.g., the Event Viewer, the Command level interface) on my computer, in a bogus attempt to convince me that my computer is already infected with malware. At one point during the call, "Dean" asked me to verify the CLSID number of my computer. Of course, I refused -- all the while acting like a dumb computer user so I had enough time to perform several Yahoo.com searches to confirm the scam.

One way to recognize these phone scams is that they never ask you if you alraedy have anti-virus software installed on your computer. "Dean" never asked and I never volunteered an answer.

"Dean" soon became frustrated and transferred me to his supervisor, who said he was from a company called, "Software Network Communications For Windows." Another sign that this was a scam: the company name kept changing. This new jerk wanted me to open the Run Software dialog box on my computer and enter the "www.support.me" website address. I asked him why the website address was different if he was from Windows. He answered that he was with an affiliate company.

Of course, I wasn't believing any of this nonsense -- nor should you. Of course, I didn't enter anything into the Run Software dialog box - nor should you. I told the jerk that I needed to know more about his company before visiting any website. Then, he hung up.

Later, I reported this phone fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) -- which you should too, if you receive such a phone call.

To learn more and avoid these technical support phone scams, read this Consumer Reports article, and this Microsoft alert. Other consumers have received technical support scam phone calls. Here is one that is both entertaining and serious:

Comments

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Account Deleted

This is definitely the call I got, too. Came from this number 206-456-0661 and this man named James told me Microsoft received an alert about a virus I got on my PC. Then he offered to help me remove it for a little charge. Had I not known about this computer scam earlier, I might have fallen for it. James was so convincing and he had all the right words to get you to panic. Trust me, the scammer is more deceiving when you get to talk to him.

I told him that the call was recorded and I'd let the police know. Well, sure enough, James hung up. I alerted the police right away and reported the phone number at http://www.callercenter.com. When I got there on the site, I wasn't surprised to find several people posted complaints against the phone caller, too.

Virus removal

That video was too funny. :-) I like to play with scam artist callers like that too.

Unfortunately too many people fall for that because some scammers can be really good and talk so you don't really understand them, but they make you trust what they're saying because they sound so convincing.

Thanks for the post!
-JB

IT support Irvine

Very nicely showed video. I am agreed with you Virus removal that this is a funny one.

Shania Simpsons

This proves that computer ownership requires a certain sense of vigilance and responsibility. I hope this scam artist goes to jail. Indeed, technical support isn't something to be taken for granted. After all, an efficient technical support team fuels an organization to reach its financial goals.

Ivan Orsecock

...For these boiler-room scam artists time is money, so WASTE THEIR TIME!!!

...When you get an unwanted phone call, play along for a little while [don't let on that you're on to them] then make an excuse to put the phone down for a moment but keep them on the hook (ie; "there's someone at the door, let me get rid of them" or "the kettle's boiling, I'll be right back"). Then simply put the phone down and wait till they hang up. Be creative and make it sound legit so they don't get wise.

...Even if it's only a couple of minutes per call, if everyone did this it would add up to thousands of hours of them paying for overseas phone calls that net them nothing but frustration.

...Feel free to re-post this in other similar forums and/or send it to your fiends and family. The more people who read this, the more effective it will be.

tjr

If you want to get rid of them fast just say all your computers run Linux. Some are too dense to realize it but the supervisor will appologise profusely and leave.

Shasta

I just received this call today - September 18,2012.
Eerily, they had my full name and they said they were calling from "windows" I told them I would need to call them back and to get their number. "Jordan" was very pushy and asked why I would need to call them back . This is the number he gave- 315.285.4143. I did not call and I'm guessing that he made it up as he gave it to me.

George

Shasta:
Thanks for the update. I tried to look up the phone number you provided. It is not listed, which is a big clue. A reputable company would likely list their customer service phone number, to make it easy for prospective customers. So, I would not call them and ignore any future inbound calls. If you do call them, let us know what happens.

George
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Sherri Kroeger

I've been mugged, I fell for it, At one point he proposed to me and gave me this email soumen,s amadder@dinfotek,net also had me sign on to this address to assess my computer so watch out.--www,ammyyy.com. Called himself Jerry.

Leslie

I stupidly fell for this scam. I had already months ago paid them $200.00 and they were calling back to do the work (I thought that I had already paid for) but as he, Jack Wilson proceed he wanted me to pay another $99.00 dollars, he put another man on and he told me about the money. When I got a little upset he very cockly started to hand write BLOCKED on my computer and now my computer is blocked at least the desktop is. Does anyone know how to fix this??? I definitely feel mugged.

George

Leslie:
Sorry to hear of your troubles. You might get an attorney to review any contracts you signed to see what your rights are and options. Or consider taking your computer to a local repair shop where you live to get fixed.

You also might contact the consumer protection agency in the state where you live for advice. File a complaint with them and with the FTC (a link is on the Resources page in this blog).

Good luck.

George
Editor
http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com

Thewho

I Just spend close to 1 hrs talking to them.
It was very funny asking them to repeat again and again.
I don't know if they can really catch some people but for sure they're very retard.
At the end i just told them i was a police officer and that i had enough time to track the phone number and i was able to locate the phone call.
They did'nt call me back

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