Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Attack of the Phone Scam?

Yesterday afternoon, my girlfriend, Cherie, and I walk into her home. Her dad was on the phone with his laptop in front of him. He's not the most computer savvy person in the world, so he asks us to help him with this person on the phone. I sit down at the laptop and take the phone. MSConfig is open (alarm bells start ringing), as is the "run program" box with "www.ammyy.com" typed in (ding ding ding).

"Hello?" No answer... "Hello?"

A man with a thick Indian accent finally speaks. "Hello, are you the manager of this laptop?" I respond, "No" The man repeats his question and I repeat my answer.

"Who are you? Where are you calling from?" Apparently he is from my Windows service provider (which I never got the name of) and apparently the laptop had made several attempts to access forbidden sites (which I never got the addresses of) and they needed to fix the problem for me.

"Ok, so what do you need me to do?"

After a bit of confusion on his part - apparently "all the programs are closed, I can only see the desktop" is a little confusing - he asks me to press the Window button and "R" at the same time. I then have to type "www.ammyy.com" and press Enter. I don't, of course, because I'm a critical thinking human being who knows that Microsoft don't have the resources to call the billions of end users that they have around the world to remove a virus, which their Microsoft Security Essentials product is supposed to take care of anyway, and certainly not via some non-Microsoft owned remote desktop software.

I Google the address, and quickly find out that the site hosts some kind of remote desktop software and that there are forums all over the internet talking about getting phone calls, having the same story spun to them, and attempting to coax the mark into downloading some software and some people even getting charged a small fee.

While stalling him, I hear him put me on mute a couple of times, I assume because he's annoyed that it's taken me a good five minutes just to press Enter.

He starts talking again. I hang up.

Cherie and I tell her dad that it's a scam and to hang up on him if he calls back, and we head out for a few minutes. When we return, her dad is on the phone with this guy again. Cherie grabs the phone.

"Hello, we have looked up the site that you asked us to go to and it's quite obviously a scam. Stop calling." She's pretty awesome like that. I would've preferred to mess around with him a little, but time is precious. The man responds with something along the lines of "I will call every day." Fine, whatever. The more time you spend failing to scam us is less time you spend successfully scamming others.

I'd always read about phone scams like this happening in other countries, but never in Australia.

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