Beware “Certified Microsoft Technician” phone scam | fizmarble

Beware “Certified Microsoft Technician” phone scam

Today I received a phone call from a person (woman?) with an Indian accent claiming to be with Microsoft.  She said that they had received reports from my computer that showed that I had been the victim of “online infections”.  These “infections” would need to be dealt with and this cold calling savior was there to rescue me.

Unfortunately for these scammers, I am actually a CompTIA A+ certified computer technician, and I was on to them from the moment they claimed to know something about my computer.  Here’s how the scam works, and how to protect yourself.

The “technician” first attempts to console you with their expertise.  “You have a problem, but we can help.”

They take a statistical stab in the dark and claim your Windows computer has reported some problems.  If you were a Mac or Linux user, you would be of no use to them as they would have just revealed that they know nothing about your particular computer, and they would probably just hang up and call the next potential victim.  I happen to be a Windows user, so I am a potential victim.

The next step is to get your computer powered on and you in front of it.  If they can get you to feel comfortable with their “knowledge”, then you will start to relinquish your power.

So the next step is to get you to press the “Windows key + R”.  This opens a run dialog box.

run dialog box thumb Beware “Certified Microsoft Technician” phone scam

You are then instructed to type “eventvwr” into the Open line and that will launch your computer’s “Event Viewer”.  This is all normal and safe, but here comes the exploit.

In your Event Viewer, there are information logs, warnings, and errors.  There are all a fact of life when it comes to owning a PC.  Programs crash, power goes out, communications time out, and errors are logged.  While an excess of errors could be an indicator of a slow or unstable computer, they never mean that you have “online infections”.  In fact, these have nothing to do with your Anti-virus or infections of any kind.  Here is what mine looks like:

event viewer thumb Beware “Certified Microsoft Technician” phone scam

The fake phone technician uses these normal errors to convince innocent computer users that they have a compromised system.  If you concede that these are problematic, the next step is the scary one, they want to take over your computer.

They will point you to a website such as teamviewer.com and have you download the client software and, using it, they will try to get you to hand over the use of your computer to them.

This is the part where I stopped them and told them what the Event Viewer logs meant, and that I was on to their scam, but I suppose the next step would be to install malware, either a keylogger or some fake antivirus designed to con me out of my money.

I hung on to see how far they would go, but if you want to save your own money and time, as well as the integrity of your PC, you should stop them at step one.  Just hang up the phone.  They actually told me that Norton or McAfee won’t fix this problem, because of the nature of the infections.  Talk won’t get you out of this, just hang up the phone.

I think Microsoft and Apple are good companies, but I don’t think they make it a habit of monitoring everyone’s computer and volunteering to help everyone with their computer problems for free.

Bonus nugget:

When having me point my browser to teamviewer.com, they used a phonetic alphabet of sorts.  I was told “’t’ as in tango, ‘e’ as in elephant, a as in…Adolf”.

Ahhh, the cultural barrier between low class Indian phone scammers and Americans.  Well, the point was conveyed.  I hung up before we got to “o as in Osama.”

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2 comments
MAdatscammers
MAdatscammers

Thanks for putting your experience out there for someone to read.  For weeks the same man with Indian acsent has been calling me at odd hours in the A.M., the worse for me was yesterday at 6:25am.  Today it was 7:15am.  They have said the exact thing to me every time.  I could never really understand what the whole phrase he was saying until today I had him to repeat it several times and decided to look it up. I am not a computer literate user. It just never felt right to me. I just didn't understand how he could know what my computer was doing.  He explained to me "He was a windows certified technician, and my computer was sending out alerts to my server and that it was saying I had someone major issues that needed to be addressed. I was very mad that they call so early, but they were very persistant (missed spelled, sorry) and disregarded what I said and told me you need to "GET up", turn on my computer so he could help me.  This is all free, you must get to your computer so this can be corrected.  I said NO!!!!! and hung up.  Now I just need to find a way to get the number he is calling from and see if anything can be done to get them to stop calling.  I do not have a system that displays the number.  So as she says BEWARE>>>>

Orion Williams
Orion Williams moderator

@MAdatscammers 

Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s horrible what these scammers do to people, it’s harassment and they deserve jail time for the time and money they steal, and for the duress they cause all for the sake of some money.

I wish I could give you a clear cut method of blocking them from calling you. I believe I was removed from their list when I called them out on the phone and told them I knew they were scammers. I don’t think they want to waste their time with people who know their game. So you may just tell them that you know the scam and to pick on someone else. I also have a feeling that the more rude you are, the more likely they are to delete your name from the list, but I cannot in good conscience recommend treating them like the sewer scum that they are. Also, your mileage may vary. Try just letting them know their game first.

I got into a rather heated exchange with one scammer who I fooled into thinking I was ignorant to their ways. He walked me through many steps and I played stupid the whole time. He had to put me to their tier 2 and I gave him the runaround. Finally they told me to go to a website where they could take control of my PC and they gave me a code to enter. I clicked the link that said something like “report a scammer”, and told him that I did so. Then things got crazy. He insisted to me that he had hacked my computer and was downloading files. He wanted me to know that he had downloaded my pictures and was perusing them in a very creepy manner. I knew he was bluffing, since I never gave him access to my computer.

He was acting like a pervert over these supposed pictures he was downloading from my PC, asking if it was my girlfriend or my sister. I turned it around on him and told him that I had hacked him and was downloading files from his computer. I asked him who the boys were in the photos, and he told me it was my grandfather. This exchange caused a co-worker and I to erupt so violently into laughter, I thought I heard the scammer on the other end of the phone hang up, but it was actually the remnant of his ego shriveling up and snapping in two. He made some sounds letting me know he was still there and I told him thanks for the laugh and hung up.

It was probably the cruelest I have ever been to another person. I feel sort of bad for tricking him into thinking that I was an ignorant computer user and then pulling the rug out from under him at the last minute, but then I don’t feel bad. They dehumanize every person that they scam.