back to article Mac fans: You don't need Windows to get ripped off in tech support scams

"I'll just [tap, tap, runs a ping command] see if you have any antivirus protection. See, all the requests timed out. That is why your computer is working so slow." These were the words of "technician" caught on video trying to convince a Mac user to hand over some cash for his "help". Convincing PC users that they have a non- …

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Trollface

I'd love to believe this article isn't a scam...

...But it's Apple so surely it just works?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd love to believe this article isn't a scam...

If you have a Mac then they already know you are gullible......

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Mushroom

Re: I'd love to believe this article isn't a scam...

"If you have a Mac then they already know you are gullible......"

D'ahh, bite me. Sorry I can't come up with a more articulate response right now, especially as I have a college degree, but right now the only appropriate response I can come up with at the moment is just bite me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd love to believe this article isn't a scam...

"If you have a Mac then they already know you are gullible......"

Or you like nice things and you aren't poor.

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Devil

I haven't had one of these jokers for a while. But I always have fun when they call. Amongst some of my time wasting tricks are.

1. Loading up my riot soundboard, I let them do there "work" until I get bored and simulate either a police raid, or house invasion.

2. From memory I follow there instructions and pretend I am a bumbling oaf....My record is 47mins...

3. I sometimes engage them in chat, and then tell them my life story, about how my wife has just left me. The death of my child. My lust for indian men.....

Am I going to hell?

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Anonymous Coward

With regards call centre phone spam in general, a mate of mine used to make farm animal or fart noises at them, and speak nonsense in a high pitched voice, which did lead to no more calls from them, presumably as they filed him under 'nutter'.

Another mate of mine who works in the rail industry got some dodgy PPI outfit dialing his company phone, to which he replied that it was a works related "railway signalling emergency number", and that the "call centre company could be prosecuted for endangering rail safety, by disrupting the rail communication network". Needless to say it shut the telephonist up, and they immediately promised to remove his number from their database, and he was never bothered again.

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Pint

I vote for you to get

The Nobel Peace Prize!

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Headmaster

c there their all

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Meh

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Messing with their tiny minds

I had a spate of calls from one bunch of clowns, and decided to have a little fun with them the next time they caled...

*ring*ring*ring*

Me: Name, Rank, Serial Number.

Them: What?

Me: Name, Rank, Serial Number.

Them: Excuse me?

Me: You heard. Name, Rank, Serial Number. NOW!

Them: I don't understand.

Me: Call is now being traced... Please stand by... <Holds down star key on phone>

Them: <click>

I haven't heard from them since. Maybe they've put me on their "NUTTERS - DO NOT CALL" list ?

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Anonymous Coward

"Am I going to hell?"

No, but your time is obviously worth a lot less than mine...

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Anonymous Coward

"Another mate of mine who works in the rail industry[...]"

I have had the fun of shutting up a marketer with "This is a secure line at a military installation, do not call this number again"

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Black Helicopters

Re: Messing with their tiny minds

as soon as i know its a scam call i switch in to " how the hell did you get this number , this is a ministry of defense secure line" ( thinking of changing that to a n.s.a secure line :) ) , then insist on speaking to there managing director while mutter about the official secrets act and people going to jail for a very long time and holding the phone six inches away from my face and asking captain Mainwaring ( showing my age :( ) " to get a type one trace on this call NOW " amazing how fast they hang the phone up

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Anonymous Coward

Dad! Is that you?

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"No, but your time is obviously worth a lot less than mine..."

Given that you troubled yourself to go AC and make a fool comment on how somebody else entertains themself, I suspect that might be a naughty fib.

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@ukgnome

47 minutes, I salute you sir...

A couple of techie friends and I have a running competition, and you've just come out of nowhere an gone into the lead.

I partially blame myself for this as I don't seem to get any calls any more... Possibly down to TPS registration, but more likely due to how I ended my 32 minute call... With manic laughter and abuse.

Pity really... Since then I set up the world's most borked virtual XP machine ready for them to remotely access (this was the stage we had reached in my 32 minute call), but they never call :-(

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Heh

Oh you want to connect to my computer to fix my problems??

OK… fire up your TN3270 client…

Wha…?? (In a strong Indian accent)

<click>

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Re: Heh

Yup!...

<"support"> "Hello I am Paul, ringing from Microsoft. We have identified a problem with your computer"

<me> "Oh, Hello. Which one?"

<"support"> "Yes, your computer has a virus."

<me>"Yes, which one?"

<"support">"What?"

<me>"Which computer? I have about twenty here at the moment"

<"support" (sticking grimly to the script)>"Please can you click on your Start button and ..."

<me>"I don't have a Start button"

<"support"> ... <click>

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Re: Heh

I just got childish with them.

<support "Hi this is steve calling from Microsoft tech support. I'm calling because we've detected a virus on your computer" />

<me "Hi this is Linus Torvalds, I only have a linux machine" />

<support "Yes we've detected a virus on your machine and" />

<me "Wait... so microsoft are calling, because they've detected a virus on my linux machine?" />

<support "Yes we have detected a virus on your machine and..." />

<me "Why is microsoft looking for a virus on my linux machine? Did you put it there? Are you spying on me?" >

<support "Listen we have detected" />

<me "No you listen, stop spying on me you perverted freak, and if I find you've been going through the folder with all my nudes" />

*click*

It's funny because at the start he's successfully faking an american accent, which gradually gets more and more indian.

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Gold badge

Re: Heh

A colleague of mine engaged 'John' from Microsoft in conversation. I did have a longish chat with one or two, established that they weren't just dumb tools of the real scammers, but the first-line people know they're committing fraud, so now I can feel justified in being rude to them from the start.

So my colleague didn't try the Linux gambit this time (kudos to the commentard who went C64 on them!). He started off with sensible questions and worry about the virus. Then asked how they knew his PC was infected. Then got aggressive. "How do you know my PC has a problem? Are you spying on me? You've already lied to me once when you told me your name's John. But you're not calling from Microsoft but from India."

This got our caller surprisingly upset. Which is odd, as he was calling from India, but maybe he really was called John? He told my Home Counties accented colleague to "fuck off you fucking Paki". Weirdly he didn't hang up - but kept going on. I was killing myself laughing at this point. Then they got into the game of 'you hang up, no you hang up', except it was "you fuck off. No you fuck off first."

I've got a few call centre people grumpy before, when they deserved it, but I've never heard anything like that. It took a while to recover from laughing. Our company has an ex-domestic number, so we were getting 2 calls a week from 'Microsoft support' at one point.

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Anonymous Coward

Commodore 64

Last time one of these jokers rang up they said the computer I was on "now" had a virus. Closest computer happened to be my Commodore 64 so I spent a good five minutes winding up the "support" guy.

Him - "Is you computer connected to the internet"

Me - "Well, there's internet in the room"

Him - "Type in xxxxxxxxx and press enter"

Me - "It says ?syntax error"

Etc

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Coat

Re: Commodore 64

Should have just had you type SYS64738... young people nowadays, really...

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The invisible hand at work

Diversifying into new markets, innovating as they go... Thanks to free-market competition we'll surely see the product steadily being improved from a simple scam to a comprehensive set of bollocks to an actual product that wastes not just your time and money but also hammers your PC for authenticity. And then, perfectly camouflaged alongside the leading anti-virus products, it will remain as part of the ecosystem, Time magazine will run a story on the whizz-kids behind it, and Gartner will hand out some delusional growth estimates for this new market segment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The invisible hand at work

Thanks to free-market competition we'll surely see the product steadily being improved from a simple scam to a comprehensive set of bollocks to an actual product that wastes not just your time and money but also hammers your PC for authenticity

In a word, Windows.

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Re: The invisible hand at work

No; I think he means Norton.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The invisible hand at work

Already happened - its called anti-virus software ...

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The only good advise

The only good advise I've ever been given by a MicroSoft employee was when one who happened to work in their fraud department suggested telling this annoying erks when they ring up

"That's interesting, could you let me know your company details, as you see I work for M$ anti fraud department"

and seeing how fast they get off the line.

Personnally I've found that to be faster than my normal response of

"You're a lying bastard aren't you"

Faster, but somehow less satisfying.

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Stop

The last Indian one of these who called me got a fruitily expletive-laden earful about why the curry I ordered on the computer half an hour ago hadn't been delivered yet and whether their call was about fixing this.

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I like to act as a confused buffon, then "find" another family member to help out. Best I've done is four (father, son, grandson, daughter), although I think they cottened on at my Jamie Oliver mockney attempt for the grandson :)

If they claim to be from MS, I'll just ask them about actual genuine support tickets I have with MS. And point out that they have my payment details on file already. Or just put them on hold.

My work colleague uses her rape alarm on them. After first donning protective headgear. She even did it to someone trying the bank scam (call on landline, don't disconnect) by blasting the fake dialtone (which then disconnected). Lovely lady, but don't sneak up on her either.

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Fuck off normally works for me

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Happy

You may gloat you Fandroids, Windroids etc

Buy I predict that it won't be long before they start calling about the malware on your phone.

-----> smug git Icon as I can't have this problem with my Nokia 6310i.

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Re: You may gloat you Fandroids, Windroids etc

"Hello this is Steve from Microsoft tech support. We've detected a problem with yoru phone"

"You're right, there is a problem with my phone. Apparently it's running windows, better get that sorted asap!"

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"Your computer has a virus"

Oh no! The missiles might launch themselves!

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I have a model dalek someone gave me many years ago. Press a button and it comes out with some useful phrases, such as "You will be exterminated". It can be quite interesting listening to them trying to engage it in conversation.

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My elderly, retired neighbour had this with her Windows laptop the other week, they convinced her to "confirm" her bank details then make her install:

www.teamviewer.com

And then ravaged her online accounts before clearing out her bank account. She was terrified when she realised what was going on, wouldn't answer the phone or go near her laptop until she found out I worked in IT and could secure her laptop. I had to help her over the next few days to sort out all her online banking, paypal, email, FaceBook, ISP, phone number, everything. She is on a pittiful state pension and they cleared her out of her (small but significant to her) savings.

I'm name dropping the software company as not only did they ignore the feedback I gave them about the "hack" but they make their software nearly impossible for regular users to remove as it doesn't appear in All Applications or Add/Remove Software.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not Teamviewer's fault

Teamviewer is just a remote control program which is extremely helpful for remote support - the scammers us it because it can be used for free to gain access to a victim's machine. You might as well ban cars because child molesters and drug dealers use them.

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TeamViewer is a very widely used and perfectly legitimate remote control/support application, I'm amazed you haven't heard of it. If these scammers abused it, or did something to make it hard to remove, that's hardly down to the TeamViewer developers.

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WTF?

I've used TeamViewer for years, and can confirm that it DOES indeed appear in All Applications/All programs or Add/Remove programs, and is EASILY removable, not that you need to remove it as it is indeed a bona fide support program. Unwittingly inviting a nasty third party onto your PC is NOT a hack, it's the result of 'social engineering' and is nothing to do with the legitimate software provider TeamViewer.com...

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I think the one thing we've learnt from this is that although Tachikoma used to work in IT, it was probably currys tech support :P

Either way I do feel sorry for the elderly who fall for this kind of thing, not really their fault but still, I've told every old person I know if they get a call from anyone regarding their computer they should call me first.

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Anonymous Coward

Considering the scammer most likely had admin access to the computer, they most likely did some alteration for teamviewer to be harder to uninstall, not like it is hard to do, especially if they have a script at hand.

Also teamviewer a perfectly legit software, the scammer just use it has it is made to be easy to set up a remote control server even by the less knowledgeable end user.

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Anonymous Coward

"hack"

It's not a hack, its being used properly (though not for legitimate reasons) so why would Teamviewer be required to do anything about it?

Also probably the reason you can't find it in add/remove programs is because it wasn't installed in the first place. You initially have a choice as to either install or just run it. (Are you sure you work in IT?)

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"Tachikoma used to work in IT, it was probably currys tech support :P"

Would have been quite nice actually, instead of government cuts, outsourcing and crappy canteen food for the last <double digit> years, I would have had a staff discount for printer paper!

I know the software is legitimate, we don't use it as our management think Windows RDC is still the only way to connect computers, hell we only updated to IE8 in the last 12 months...

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This post has been deleted by its author

It would be rather amusing if protection.com modified their settings so the ping started to return a message informing the recipient of the call that someone was attempting to scam them.

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Name dropping...?

@ Tachikoma

I'm so intrigued by your comment "I'm name dropping the software company" that I've created a Register account just to ask the question - which software company? The only one I see is Teamviewer, and it's completely reputable - I use it myself. (I see that someone has just made the same comment...)

Your story is tragic - these people are total scum. I have had a number of calls and I (like others above) like to waste their time by stringing them along for a while. In a very panicky tone: "What??? A virus??? Is my health at risk??? Is my family ok???"

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My grandfather is able to do what he needs with technology, he uses Skype, has a smart phone and can upload pictures to email, but once he was trying to get into a Hotmail account he had forgotten the password to.

Cut a long story short, he was down to just guessing the password, which locked him out.

After a quick Google he found a phone number to ring that said it was Hotmail support and could unlock your account. I was visiting at the time so he rang it put it on speaker and let me listen in as, “I work with computers”.

It was answered, as a lot of call centres you ring from the UK are, by a guy with an Indian accent reading a script the conversation went something like…

“Welcome to Microsoft Hotmail helpline, my name is Daniel how can I help?

My brother told the guy he couldn’t get into his account as he had forgotten his password.

“Ok”, said Dan “can you tell me your email address of the account you want to access”

He told him.

“Ok, let me do some checking” (sound of typing)

“OH NO!” Dan exclaimed “You have a virus in the email! You must act quickly to have it removed or it will infect your whole computer”

What?

“You have to quickly go to this site www.sharemypc.com (or something similar) and I can remove the virus” said Dan, sounding desperately worried

So we start asking some questions

“Why do you need to access to his PC?”

“So I can remove the virus, otherwise it will ruin the computer, go to that site quick!”

“We can’t get into the email account from this PC, because it is locked out, that’s why we rang you”

“Yes but I can use the PC to access the account and remove the virus, you have to be quick, it will ruin your PC”

“But if you are in the account can you not remove it yourself?”

I have to do it from your PC, I can’t access it from here, quickly you must hurry, or it will spread and ruin everyone you knows PC as well, you must be quick and go to that site and I will tell you the instructions to let me access your PC”

“If you can’t access the account, how do you know it has a virus?”

(Sound of paper being rustled)

“….The virus will spread unless I stop it, you must go to the site, it’s the only way to stop the virus”

“If the email account has a virus that will ruin this PC, why would we want the account to be accessed from our PC?”

“Because, that’s what I have to do”

“Why?”

“Because that’s how I stop the virus”

“Ok say I let you access this PC, what will you do?”

“I will stop the virus, you must go to this site www.sharemypc.com so I can remove the virus, do it now!” said Dan, sounding a bit annoyed.

“No, what exactly will you do, tell me what steps you will take to remove the virus”

“It’s very technical, you won’t understand”

“Try me”

“excuse me?”

“I’m very ‘technical’ I will understand I want you to explain to me what you will do”

“There is no time to explain, the virus will ruin your computer, and I must stop it”

“Can I speak to your supervisor please”

“No”

“Ok, bye bye.”

He never did get his Hotmail account unlocked, in the end he registered a new one with the service he wanted.

The unfortunate thing is while I did enjoy stringing the guy along, I know if I hadn’t been there my granddad, and a lot of other people would have just gone along with it, because he is used to people telling him what to do with compute

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Flame

Google Search Scams

These scams via Google Search AdWords are getting common. Just search for anything like "hotmail password", "lost Facebook password" and common faults like that and you will see the AdWords bought up by these evil scammers.

I had one client who, just like Maharg's grandfather, had lost their hotmail password. They also searched for a "fix" and called the scammer who was advertising via Google AdWords. They followed the scammer on the phone. Right through to letting them remote control the PC (that time it was LogMeIn). Again the same scare tactics about viruses, etc.

What saved my client was comical. The Remote Scammer couldn't get much done... well, this client is in the middle of West Sussex... where the "broadband" mega fast 200kbps. And that is on a good day. The scammer couldn't handle the sludgy speed and gave up.

What really annoys me though is Google is taking the money from these people for the AdWords. Try it yourself - think in "Home User" mode and google some common problems they will have, then notice the scammy sounding URLs at the top in the Ad-Words. Google needs to step up its level of fraud detection here.

I'm now training my clients to never trust the pink ad-words boxes...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Search Scams

What really annoys me though is Google is taking the money from these people for the AdWords. Try it yourself - think in "Home User" mode and google some common problems they will have, then notice the scammy sounding URLs at the top in the Ad-Words. Google needs to step up its level of fraud detection here.

Although it's fairly known I'm not a huge fan of anything Google beyond its search engine, I have to speak in their defence here: it's nigh impossible for Google to distinguish between scammer and who offers genuine support without going through that whole process themselves. However, I too had a friend call up in panic because of such a fake tech support, and when I informed Google of the ad in question it disappeared in about an hour. They're not asleep at the switch, there's just such a flood of scam agents out there that Google's management model can't cope either.

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Spam HandlIng Therapy

Your inglish is awful, please be speaking Hindi. Usually gives phenomenal results.

but if they are persistant there's always this...

Wrong department, you need to call this number .... 020 7632 3035 or

020 7664 9274 [ because nothing says "screw you" better than a diplomatic incident ]

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Holmes

Re: Spam HandlIng Therapy

teamviewer works on linux

Gentoo. Xvwm. teamviewer.

Confusion.

laughter.

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