The “I’m Calling You From Microsoft” phone call scam is old, it’s jaded, it’s not very well done, and yet it’s an incredibly successful SCAM. Please read on…
In the past year I’ve dealt with at least three people in my callout area (a radius of about 25 km around Trie-sur-Baïse, 65220) who have had the type of experience I am about to show you. The big difference between those experiences and the story you are about to read is that the people I know were all successfully scammed for money, and so I therefore ask that you read this cautionary tale and share it with all of your friends and relatives, wherever in the world they live, so that you and your kin remain safe and the perpetrators remain poor.
The story you are about to read is funny but only because the scammers happened to call a Tech journalist who recognised the pitch the minute they called, but can you be so sure that, on picking up the phone whilst watching the news or reading a Robert Ludlum book or making a cheese sandwich that you won’t be fooled by their tricks?
The “Tech Support” Scammers Called HTG (So We Had Fun with Them) <- opens in a new tab/window
The people that I know who were scammed were neither stupid nor idiots. But they weren’t Geeks either. They were just normal people who simply didn’t know that what they were being fed is specifically designed to awaken your fear of the unknown (in this case how computers work) and then mercilessly exploit it.
In what was by far the worst of the three cases cases I know about, the victim paid them a total of EUR600 to have a PC repaired, a PC that had no viruses or malware on it. I checked the machine after the customer admitted to me that he felt he might have been scammed, and all that remained from the scam was Teamviewer, a perfectly legitimate software tool that I myself use to do remote support on my clients’ computers. But there was obviously no evidence of any prior virus or malware activity.
If this happens to you, you have pretty much lost your money. The reason for this is that not only did you freely give up your credit card details without somebody holding a gun to your head, but you also got a service for that payment. It doesn’t matter that the service in question was completely worthless. A few, very lucky, people who have persisted have had a reimbursement from their credit card company, but by all accounts this is pretty rare. In addition to this you will find no legal way to get money or satisfaction from the scammer whose identity and location you have no way of verifying, working from a country that probably has no extradition treaty with any nation this side of Alpha Centauri. Remember, using a perfectly legal VoIP service, your caller ID can display just about anywhere you fancy, and hiding your real IP address is even easier to do.
Please, if somebody calls you saying they are from Microsoft, just hang up. Nobody from Microsoft is ever going to call you… ever.