Spent an hour of my life today wasting an hour of a scammers life. Not sure if that was a good investment, but amused me for a while.
EDIT: I perhaps wasn’t clear enough. If you’ve come here from Google, and you’re wondering what to do – this is a SCAM. You can safely hang up the phone right now – nobody is calling you to tell you about viruses, nobody will call you out of the goodness of their hearts, nobody is monitoring your computer for free. If you want, you can amuse yourself by chatting to them, but under no circumstances should you install any software, give them any access to your computer, give them any passwords or personal details (including your real name), or give them your credit card. You can talk to them and have a laugh within those rules – so you can pretend that you’re trying to install the software they want, and you can be really bad at it, but don’t actually install it. Hopefully that’s clear enough!!
The call was:
“Hello, this is Windows Service Centre, we’re calling about your computer we’re seeing traffic on the internet“
We chatted for a while, then I told him I needed a pen. Took me 10 minutes to find a pen (I had to change clothes, go to the bathroom, and get a beer for the road ahead). He waited, which was nice.
Then I went to my computer to understand what he was after.
“Can you see the CTRL key“
“Yep, got that“
“Can you see the flag key next to that?“
“Flag key, what’s that“
This can go on all day. We ran eventvwr. We clicked on applications.
“32000 errors. Oh my god, your computer is infected, you need to take action immediately“
“Should I disconnect the internet, that’d stop the hackers“
“No, definitely don’t disconnect the internet, we’ll help you fix it“
Apparently I was stupid enough, so he handed me to his supervisor to help me better. This guy had better English.
We talked for a while longer. Many of my errors relate to Bonjour.
“Bonjour, that’s French, have I got a French computer?“
“No, that’s a program that’s malfunctioning“
“Are the hackers French, I thought hackers were Russian?“
“No, that’s an infection by a program called Bonjour, it’s malfunctioning on your computer“
Given Bonjour was installed by Apple when I installed iTunes, and it’s a bit of a mess of an application, that description is surprisingly accurate. I’m sure it’s not deliberate.
We had a lot of fun. My first cordless phone went flat (half an hour), I switched to the other phone. He was having real problems getting me to download an exe from ammyy.com so that he could get remote access to my computer. For some reason I had real difficulty seeing the “download” button, and once I downloaded it, it just wouldn’t run. Probably wouldn’t help that I’d shifted to my Linux computer by then…apparently exes don’t run on Linux. Who knew. After 4 tries to get me to run it, we decided to extract it instead. All the files in the folder started with . – none of them were visible.
The fun bit here was that I’ve got Evolution as the file manager. So when we get to “what can you see at the bottom right of the screen”. I’ve got the only visible file selected – CERTIFICATE. So I can see at the bottom “CERTIFICATE selected (4.6 kB)”. So I tell him that. Which is confusing, he really wants me to have a start button. Anyway, turns out when you mouse over it, it moves. Never knew that before. Spent quite a while explaining to him that when I tried to click on it, it moved to the other side of the screen. That was very confusing, he thought I might have a Mac for a while.
I was vaguely wondering what these guys actually get paid. For the amount of work he was putting in to try to get me to run an executable, he probably could have been working support desk for a large corporate. In fact, he was better than many of the Indian support guys I’ve dealt with in large corporates. I wonder if there’s a market to hire Indians and tell them they’re scamming people, but actually get them to do real support work. That’d be sort of reverse funny.
I hung up by “accident” whilst he was getting his supervisor to help. Apparently I was too stupid and needed someone more senior. They called back after a while, but the joke was getting a bit old. My partner came home, so we put it on speaker so she could listen for a while, but then we decided that my “son” had come home and wanted to talk to them. They didn’t call back after that.
According to the internet, the scam here is to tell you there are files slowing down your computer, remote in and delete them, tell you that your computer is now fixed, then get a credit card number for a subscription service to keep you safe. The credit card number is the prize, the remote access to your computer apparently doesn’t give them anything useful. Hell of a way to make a dollar if you ask me.