Friday, May 30, 2014

Things I Have Told The "Microsoft Support" Telephone Scammers

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One scourge of modern life that has been plaguing anybody with a wireline or cellular telephone in the past couple of years has gotten calls from somebody speaking with a heavy accent working in a boiler room call centre somewhere in Asia claiming to be from Microsoft support to report that their home computer is infected with all kinds of malware.  The scammer tells the potential victim to look in the Windows event viewer and tells them that everything marked with a red X is caused by viruses.  The scammer collects a credit card number from the victim and then instructs the victim to download a "remote access removal tool" which turns out to be malware as well.  

Getting these calls and getting sick of it, I have told the scammer that I own a Mac, even though I don't the scammer didn't know that I was lying.  That was over a month ago.  Some of these scammers don't accept that as an answer and will insist that their computer is badly infected  and they need to let them into your computer and charge you for it.  

If telling them that using your using an operating system that doesn't come from
Microsoft isn't enough to get you off the scammers' call list.  There are some things you can tell them that will help get out some of the frustration from getting all these scam calls and have some fun at the scammers' expense.  

"I'm so glad you called I keep getting a message that says illegal call from ID 10 T". Most of these scammers have some technical knowledge and most likely would know that ID 10 T is a geeky way of calling somebody an idiot.  The scammer will ether get mad which you can tell them to get a real job and hang up the phone.  Alternatively they will stay on script and try to continue with the scam.  You can tell them to get a real job and hang up the phone.

One I have been waiting to try is picking up the phone and answering "FBI Cybercrime Investigation Unit, This call is being recorded for quality control".   This may not scare the hard core professionals pulling off this scam but the for the beginner might get scared off and hang up.  

It would be worthwhile to tell the scammers that your hearing isn't very good and ask them to e-mail the information they have about your computer.  If they do e-mail you that e-mail with the complete message header  can be turned over to the FBI or RCMP to assist them in their investigations of these international frauds.  

The problem with these telephone scam operations they are using inexpensive VOIP systems that costs next to nothing to make hundreds of calls from Asia to potential victims in North America.  One remedy that will hit them in the money maker is to make up an excuse to put them on hold.  Making scammers sit on hold probably won't cost them a whole lot but if making one operator in the boiler room sit on hold will slow down the ability to make calls, making it harder to find the poor souls who get sucked in and hand over their credit card numbers.

As much as it would make it a better world of these scammers were put out of business tomorrow, that unfortunately isn't going to happen.  These boiler room operations can and will spring up anywhere.  The only thing that will slow down this scam is educated computer users who simply will not fall these scams.  Yes there are creative ways that to tell them that you are one of those who will not fall for it.  

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