One of my regular clients, a smart, polite, confident, clever man whom I will call Dave (name changed to protect the innocent) was completely taken in by Indian phone scammers and stood to lose over $900.00.
His phone rang, he answered it and the scammer proceeded to tell him that he was from Microsoft Technical Support and he would like to help him get rid of the virus that the Technician had detected on his laptop.
Well, as it happened, Dave's laptop was on at the time so he worked with the Technician to resolve his "issues". The Technician knew Dave's address, phone number, and other personal information.
The Technician got him to access the Event Viewer, which showed a lot of errors were occurring on his laptop, which is quite clever, because we believe what computers show us.
But the Event Viewer is more a progress report on the computer during start up and many of the errors were just processes that were unable to start properly the first time they were accessed.
The key here is the phrase "the first time" as if you look carefully at the errors, you would see they do not recur further down the list, meaning they started successfully later on. We are talking a time period of several seconds, not minutes or hours.
The technician told Dave that he needed to remotely access his computer to get rid of the errors and would Dave permit him to install some software in order to resolve the errors.
This is the point where Dave started to get a bit suspicious, but he allowed the Technician to access his computer. This is his first real mistake, as up until this point the Technician had no access to dave's laptop, but once he had access, he started to look at Dave's files, then he opened a window for Dave to make payment of around $200.00.
Dave logged in his account details into the Western Union Money Transfer Service website, but luckily for Dave his bank blocked access and requested Dave contact the bank to give permission for the payment. Dave noticed the the amount had changed from $200.00 to over $900.00 and then the alarm bells really began going off for him and he hung up the phone and turned off his laptop.
Then he called me to come and check it for problems. He was lucky: all I found was some remote software installed and a few documents deleted, which I was able to recover easily.
The point I want to make is that these scammers are very good at what they do: they make hundreds of phone calls every day, polish their presentation and learn how to manipulate people into working with them, even while they are ripping them off.
I have been in IT for 10 years and in all that time, Microsoft has never called me to fix my computer. I have to call them and jump through a lot of hoops to talk to a technician about any issue.
So, if it happens to you, be aware of these facts:
Microsoft will never call you to fix your computer.
Virus removal is very difficult to do remotely.
Payment occurs after the work, not before it.
If someone calls you to say they are from Microsoft or Windows and want to help you fix your computer, hang up! It's a scam.
If they want remote access to your computer to process payment, hang up! It's a scam.
Consider going mobile and having your landline removed, as the White Pages are how they track you down. There is no directory for mobile phones, so they can't get to you that way.
If you aren't sure what to do, hang up and call us. We would be happy to help you sort out what is going on.
Luckily for Dave, because he contacted the bank within 24 hours and replaced his credit card, the bank stopped all payments from his account to Western Union Money Transfer Service. A happy ending to a not so happy story.
What a way to finish the year! PlanIt Dezign's complete new set up laid out in all it's glory. Always enjoyable chatting to Aaron and Erin Young about how they use their computers and how technology can help their business into the future.
There were even a few cold ones once everything was set up which were much appreciated. Local business at it's finest.
Oh and if you are looking for an obsession, join Aaron for a lap down at the Taranaki RC Speedway.