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Regulators Smash Global Phone Tech Support Scam Operation 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the grarrr-ftc-smash dept.
SternisheFan sends this excerpt from ZDNet: "Regulators from five countries joined together in an operation to crack down on a series of companies orchestrating one of the most widespread Internet scams of the decade. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other international regulatory authorities today said they shut down a global criminal network that bilked tens of thousands of consumers by pretending to be tech support providers. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, speaking during a press conference with a Microsoft executive and regulators from Australia and Canada, said 14 companies and 17 individuals were targeted in the investigation. In the course of the crackdown, U.S. authorities already have frozen $188,000 in assets, but Leibowitz said that would increase over time thanks to international efforts."
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Regulators Smash Global Phone Tech Support Scam Operation

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  • I got them on the phone once, and I let them loose on a VM. If I had a bit more time, I'm sure I could have had much more fun with them. I know someone who fell for it, and I asked them (the victim) one question: "Why in the world would Microsoft call you? They already have your money, they don't care from that point on." It baffles me totally that anyone would fall for it.
    • by Spottywot (1910658) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:08PM (#41544065)
      I've had them on the phone on more than occasion, the funniest time was was probably the third time they called, it was an asian sounding woman who told me my computer was sending them messages that it was infected. I asked which one as I have three, she said I could go to any one, anyway I humoured her to find out what the scam was. She took me to a remote access site (which in itself seemed perfectly legitimate), anyway at this point I'd seen enough and called her out as a scammer, her response made me laugh, 'Hey you!' She said, 'Stick the phone up your ass!' and then she hung up on me. Awesome customer service :) Glad they've been caught.
      • by r1348 (2567295) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:12PM (#41544103)

        Stick the phone up your ass? I see you went for Premium Service...

      • by dwywit (1109409)

        Ditto - I had an indian-sounding fellow that I took for a ride. I asked him which computer, as I have many, and he said all of them...., then I asked which which IP address, 'cos he sure didn't have the internal network address, again he said any of them...
         
        I strung him along for about 5 minutes, and he got more and more upset, finally calling me a f#cking arsehole then hanging up.

        • by pcgc1xn (922943)

          Bah, 5 minutes, you are a lightweight. Remember you are running an infected vista machine. They do not boot in under 10 minutes, and when you tell them that your machine has been running slowly, they are eager to wait for you. Then another 10 minutes to "download" the file they want you to install - again my computer has been running slowly. Remember the tearing your hair out pain when trying to trouble shoot your mother in laws computer over the phone? Comes in useful, give it back to them, they will

          • by dwywit (1109409)

            Well, I managed to fit a lot into that 5 minutes "- which computer?", "OK, will this one do?", "yes, sir, is it booting up yet?", "yes, it's already running", "please click the start button", "what start button, this is linux", and so on until he started to get upset - actually called me a liar. Had to stifle a laugh at that one.

          • To this you should add that the computer is always connected in a room next door (between each instruction take a five minute break with them listening to some music - you have to keep it sounding like they are connected though). Fun would be to have your computer in a different language. When they say "start menu" take ten minutes to eventually work out that it's "demarrer" (look up "vista francaise" in Google images for inspiration if you speak just a little French). Make every standard stupid support
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I told them - "I don't really understand this computer stuff - I will hand you over to my kid who does it for me" passed it to my 5 year old daughter whispered in her other ear to say "I always use linux it is safer" - he wished her a good day and hung up

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          I spoke with them on two occasions. Both times, I got them quickly off the line by saying I run Macs, not Windows PCs (this was actually very confusing for them). I had actually hoped they would call them again, because I wanted to string them along as long as possible by acting as the nightmare customer of all tech support folk: Basically, by acting like an idiot. I'd planned on getting confused by common terms (what's a mouse? left click, right click, huh?) and just doing everything as slowly as possi

      • I've had them on the phone on more than occasion, the funniest time was was probably the third time they called, it was an asian sounding woman who told me my computer was sending them messages that it was infected. I asked which one as I have three, she said I could go to any one, anyway I humoured her to find out what the scam was. She took me to a remote access site (which in itself seemed perfectly legitimate), anyway at this point I'd seen enough and called her out as a scammer, her response made me laugh, 'Hey you!' She said, 'Stick the phone up your ass!' and then she hung up on me. Awesome customer service :) Glad they've been caught.

        I got the "your computer was infected" call a couple of times, but now it's all "Lower my credit card interest rates" and "We want to give you a free cruise." Regardless, I string them along a bit (if I have the time) and then drop the "you're a slimy scammer!" and (for the male callers) "Next time I'm over at your house f***ing your wife, I'll wait 'til you come home so I can smack you!" or (for the "ladies") "Why don't you go back to turning tricks? It's more honest work." The callers are generally non

    • by Stiletto (12066)

      Who the hell is so stupid that they would just do what a random person calling them tells them to do?

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Who the hell is so stupid that they would just do what a random person calling them tells them to do?

        You don't really understand how conmen work do you? With the huge increase in the number of people with computers, there will inevitably be a lot of people with almos zero IT knowledge. If you tell them plausibly enough you are ringing from "Microsoft Techinical Support" some people will fall for it.

        Everyone is stupid at something. They work different cons with people who are inexperienced with credit cards, car mechanics, investing in shares, women, or whatever.

      • by Thud457 (234763)

        Who the hell is so stupid that they would just do what a random person calling them tells them to do?

        Apparently an alarming number [slashdot.org] of fast food restaurant managers.

    • by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:59AM (#41547145) Journal
      My dear old mum got them once and had them on the phone for about an hour (she was bored).

      They finally hung up when she told them she had made a mistake, and the screen she was looking at was not actually a computer monitor, just the TV.
    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Not to mention if they actually NEEDED tech support, why not just contact someone locally, where they could meet them face to face? Hell if they have Win 7 most of us little shops will be happy to set up a time and do a remote session so they don't have to bring the unit in, its actually one of my more popular services with the older folks as they don't want to have to unhook everything. I just sit there on the phone with them and walk them through starting a remote session and then while I'm in control of

      • by colesw (951825)

        I never did understand why someone would trust their computer, with all their pics and docs and private stuff, to some guy halfway across the planet.

        And on that note I use to have a co-worker with a strong Indian accent, even though he had lived here in Canada for about 20 years, and he would have people hang up on him because they didn't want to speak to someone in India.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          That's funny, I used to have this little bitty Indian gal that worked at the same shop as me and I LOVED when we'd need an RMA and they'd try giving us the "Have you tried a reboot?" Indian tech support as I'd just pass her the phone and say 'Indian tech support" and she would just go OFF on their ass. I used to love to watch her get into a huff and be telling them things like NO! You did NOT just tell me to reboot, I've been building and programming computers since before your little butt was born so you d
  • I have to give the perps credit it was a clever idea. Sad that this sorta thing goes on...
    • by Whiteox (919863)

      I used to be angry at them, but in the end it was $$$ for me. Getting rid of scareware etc was a job for me too.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I used to be angry at them, but in the end it was $$$ for me. Getting rid of scareware etc was a job for me too.

        Cool, so really they were just one big privately run job creation scheme that cost no one anything and contributed to the growth of the economy. Oh, wait...

        • by Whiteox (919863)

          Yeah exactly. I wasn't looking forward to jobs like that as most of the time they are hard to remove and sometimes the removal process damages core files requiring user data backup, reformat and reinstall. Pain in the arse that takes up hours + the inevitable forced MS updates. Vista is particularly bad at that as it requires SP1 to fully automate updates. You can never get paid enough to do that job.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:10PM (#41543549) Homepage Journal

    The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other international regulatory authorities today said they shut down a global criminal network that bilked tens of thousands of consumers by pretending to be tech support providers.

    ... When asked if the FTC had any intention of going after the other international crime ring, responsible for bilking the world's population for trillions, the FTC officials simply replied, "Are you kidding? Those bank guys throw hella parties for us, why would we want to discourage that???"

  • by 2phar (137027) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:13PM (#41543577)
    I would like to hear more about how these guys got their phone number lists.. they seemed to have unlisted numbers together with correct names. In Ireland particularly, I only ever seemed to hear about this from people who were customers of a certain large ISP.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would like to hear more about how these guys got their phone number lists..

      Ever reply to those "Free iPad!" spam emails? No? ...Me neither.

      The same gullible people that give out their personal information to random strangers on the internet are the ones who get hit with this stuff.

      The only reason I know this is because the shitty company that I work for does business with companies that purchase these spam-generated phone lists.

    • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:24PM (#41543681)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_dialing [wikipedia.org]

      Do you really think they care or take trying anything else?

      It still amazes me that people here think that cyber criminals are some sort of super efficient people who want to try to have a hit each and every time.

      People like this are like spammers. They are not interested in how many say no, as long as enough say yes. They will just start dialing and get as many as possible.

      If they get many from a large ISP that is more likely because they are a large ISP and not anything else. People who are with the smaller ISPs are smart enough to just hang up.

      • by snemarch (1086057)
        I don't think "war dialing" is appropriate here - they didn't just dial random numbers, they had lists of phone numbers with matching names.
        • They use ancient technology, based on dead trees. I believe it's called "phone books", especially the "white pages" variant.

      • Informative? Right. Because randomly dialing numbers to find modems (as if anyone's on dial-up these days) is totally the same as calling and asking for a person by name.

        Did you even read any one of the article, the post you're replying to or the article you linked to?

        • by rsxaeon (2506670)
          Randomly dialing numbers to find modems is sufficiently similar to randomly dialing numbers to find idiots to at least consider he might be making an analogy.
    • by Rudisaurus (675580) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:30PM (#41543737)
      In Canada, anyway, they simply scooped the entire national DNC list and used that. Nice, eh? At least the FTC charged them with unfair and deceptive trade practices under the FTCA in addition to DNC list violations. The former probably has more teeth. Enforcement may be a bit more of a problem, however.
      • by Earache65 (681180)
        After reading this CBC article (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/10/03/crtc-action.html) it wasn't apparent that the CRTC actually had any issue with the obvious fraud that was occurring, only that they had broken the Do-Not-Call List rules. Good to know the CRTC has our back.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Online you can find valid area codes and exchanges. See http://cnac.ca if you'd like. Then start dialing 0001, 0002, etc. Private numbers are not safe from these types of attacks. A tracking random number generator or phone book attack is also possible. The fact is, if you're Crooked enough to run a scam like this, you're Crooked enough to target everyone by taking a shotgun approach. As long as enough people pay for their crapware at stupid prices, and pay call center employees peanuts (ie: on par with out

    • I would like to hear more about how these guys got their phone number lists..

      Pick up your phone and dial a random number in a valid exchange. You will only have to do this a few times before you reach someone who is having problems with a Windows computer.

      This is why Apple is the most valuable corporation on the planet right now.

    • by Whiteox (919863)

      The story I heard was that some of them are frontline call centre people from country x. They have all the equipment already set up and they just use what's available. No big mystery.

  • Which I found amusing at first, especially since I run a Mac ;)

    The first time they called, I hung up immediately since I had better things to do. The second time, though, I got fairly annoyed at the guy who sounded like he was on the other side of the world in a shack somewhere. I wanted to probe him and ask questions - he claimed to be calling on behalf of my ISP, but did not disclose a name. He wouldn't answer any of my queries and kept on talking and talking - until silence and hung up.

    And here I was pla

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would have created a Vm with the goatse guy in the background and let him have and listen to his or her reaction upon seeing it. I would then go on claiming that was the last guy who called here. Want to be next?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At least once a week - one time, I let them go thru all their b.s. (especially the .inf file part, made me laugh when he said "they slow you down", lol - the scammer asked why I was laughing too).

    I stayed on the phone with them though - just so I could get their host-domain or url they wanted me to go to so I could block it in my custom hosts file (got it too).

    I told them "THANKS!" at that part, & he asked why - I told him... lol, he hung up!

    Funniest part is, later? They tried it again... lol!

    * One time

    • http://www.itnews.com.au/News/317816,us-authorities-bust-microsoft-support-scam.aspx [itnews.com.au]

      More importantly - here's 1 of the "tricks" they try pull that I noted:

      http://www.itnews.com.au/News/257822,how-the-microsoftlogmein-support-scam-works.aspx [itnews.com.au]

      * They TRIED to pull the EventLog one too that THIS article notes, & I was like "wait a second - are you REALLY trained in this? Those are merely eventlog entries, not errors of a serious nature!" - guy was quick too, & asked IF there were any "warning" ones (th

      • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:21PM (#41545023)

        That's legitimate software, as is Teamviewer, a related remote access and desktop sharing tool.

        http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx [teamviewer.com]

        Remote tools like this are used every day by remote sysadmins. The scam was to get you to install it yourself so they could connect from their end, take your banking information, and clean out your accounts. It looks like the reason why they picked Amyy was because the license fee for "unlimited simultaneous connections" is relatively cheap ($99 for top tier) compared to Teamviewer's rather expensive license for unlimited connections - $1499.

        And then through the remote tool, they would make your machine unbootable when everything was done. There have been people who have let these guys run loose in a VM to find nothing, only to watch them start disabling services and delete system files.

        Teamviewer, Amyy, other remote access/desktop sharing tools are third parties to all of this and aren't part of the scam.

        --
        BMO

  • Today (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AG the other (1169501) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:21PM (#41543647)

    They must have missed some. My aunt got a call this afternoon from them.

    • I just heard about this on the radio driving home. I am in Canada. Our equivalent of the FTC fined two companies, one 500K, one 18K. They also asked that the companies respect our do not cole registry from now on. My understanding is that in Canada at least, they can still call, just not if you chose to give your number to the DNC registry. Seems a bit light of a punishment.
    • by thogard (43403)

      I was called yesterday. I expect this will never go away since it works well enough.

      This scam was unique in its early days since it used legitimate call centers to make the outbound calls which pre-screened the suckers. The call center would get paid when they handed off the call to the real scammers.

      There are counter scripts floating around for people who want to waste their time.

    • by bigbird (40392)

      Got a call from them yesterday here in Australia. About the 12th call.

  • Tell me it was that god damn MyFuckingCleanPC (a.k.a. MySlowPieceOfShitPC) company that got busted...

    PULLEEEZZZZEE!

    • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:07PM (#41544049)

      Tell me it was that god damn MyFuckingCleanPC (a.k.a. MySlowPieceOfShitPC) company that got busted...

      PULLEEEZZZZEE!

      "The fake 'scareware' programs included WinFixer, WinAntiVirus, PopupGuard, WinFirewall, InternetAntiSpy, ComputerShield, PC SuperCharger and ErrorSafe," http://www.esecurityplanet.com/malware/ftc-wins-163-million-judgment-against-scareware-marketer.html [esecurityplanet.com]

      • by Stiletto (12066)

        WhyDoTheyAllUseCamelCase?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          BecauseAllTheFakePCMaintenanceToolsInTheWorldCan'tFixABustedSpaceBar.

      • From TGDaily: FTC nabs more scareware scammers Posted on October 4, 2012 -05:30 by Emma Woollacott Flushed with success from successfully closing a 'scareware' case on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission has succeeded in getting six more such outfits closed down.

        "The FTC has been aggressive –and successful –in its pursuit of tech support scams," says FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. "And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtu

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Tell me it was that god damn MyFuckingCleanPC (a.k.a. MySlowPieceOfShitPC) company that got busted...

      PULLEEEZZZZEE!

      LOL I haven't seen the MyFuckingCleanPC shill/troll recently on here. I found some of his tales quite heartwarming, although he did tend to spoil the endings by rattling on about Windows crapware.

  • by west (39918) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:25PM (#41543695)

    Interestingly enough, when I smelled scam a year ago and asked for particulars (company name and address) I was given them! The company was a pronounced like Symantec but spelled differently. I Googled them after hanging up and found about 40 want ads from them looking for tech support people in India... Even the scammers use the internet to recruit.

    I've received about 30 of these calls over the last year. The last time (yesterday) I lambasted the salesman for working for fraudsters, I was told "Well, don't blame me when your computer breaks down". *sigh*

    What I want to know is how or why their credit card privileges weren't terminated a year ago.

    • I've received two calls in the last week so I'm not sure how the USFTC can claim to have 'shut them down'.

      My strategy these days is to ask them to hang on 'for just a minute' and then go and leave my phone under a cushion for 20 minutes. I figure that wasting their time is the most effective way to fight back.
      • by west (39918) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:26PM (#41544235)

        Well, given the arrests, if I get another call, I'll be seriously attempted to answer something like..

        Scammer: I'm calling from Microsoft and ....

        Me: Wait a moment, its all over Google News in the last hour. They're raiding 23 workplaces all over India for you guys... Oh, right. Google India is probably blocking it until they're finished the raids... Wait... There, I've got it up here on my screen. OH MY GOD!

        They've updated. The police have found bodies! OH MY GOD. Lots of bodies. Why? Why? Oh Jesus. [Reading] Police suspect the criminals decided to eliminate all witnesses who could testify against them. Oh My God. Jesus. 48 men and 6 women in 3 locations? Dear God, what sort of psychos are you working for? Look it up. Look it up on American Google, if you can get through.

        Oh God. I'm so sorry. Oh God. This is crazy! They used machetes in one location! I'm so sorry. You don't deserve this. Nobody deserves this. I'm so sorry.

        Click.

        Actually, I don't think I'd have the guts to pull that off. But oh boy, am I tempted.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Look, I can help you.

          They're going to try to seize your funds. I can shelter them in my escrow account, but you'll have to wire them quick...no wait, use western union, it should be easy.

          I'll set up plane tickets to get you out of there. Be at the airport tomorrow by 8 am, the agent will have the tickets for you. I'm pretty sure my travel agent can get them by then, but if not, keep checking back.

          We can get through this.

      • by daremonai (859175)
        I got one of those calls once. It was a woman with a very strong Indian accent, and for no particular reason I decided to pretend it was phone sex ("I have viruses? Oh my God, that's so hot!"). This just confused her for a little bit - I don't think she really followed what I was saying - and she kept on trying to continue with her script. Finally, I said she really needed to find a better job, and she cursed and hung up.
    • At least they were honest:

      "Semen Tech. Confidence in a fucked up world."

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:26PM (#41543699) Journal

    Are they saying Tech Support calls you?

    This must be some kind of joke

    • by mordred99 (895063) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:31PM (#41543749)

      To quote a typical slashdot meme ... "Must be Russia"

    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      Yes I got a call from 'Microsoft' or something like that. This was after, for the first time in my life, I had bought a new computer and sent off the warranty registration. So I thought heck, maybe the OEM does employ people to phone you once you register your new $2000 computer. (That's not what I paid for it, but the list price a couple of years ago.) The woman at the other end asked me to bring up Event Viewer, which I did, but became annoyed and testy when I pointed out that 'error' messages in the
  • You have viruses, spyware. and for $50 we can fix ok?

  • by Centurix (249778) <centurix@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:29PM (#41543735) Homepage

    They've rang us a number of times but the last time it came through with a caller ID, which was surprising. I've had a fair bit to do with VoIP here with Optus and I recognised that the number had a block ID which was reserved to Optus, so I used their block allocation lookup and found it allocated to a specific company with an ABN (Australian Business Number) and then rang my sales guy there to see what could be done to track them down. He was surprised and said he would pass it on to their internal scam monitoring department and within half and hour I received a call from them asking me about the call and asking if I would be prepared to talk to the Australian Federal Police, who then rang me 10 minutes after that and grilled me about the call too. Didn't hear anything more about it.

    • ...within half and hour I received a call from them asking me about the call and asking if I would be prepared to talk to the Australian Federal Police, who then rang me 10 minutes after that and grilled me about the call too.

      Is anybody else bothered by the fact that this is the last post Centurix has ever made?

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:39PM (#41543815)
    I helped a guy who got scammed by these guys but it turned out that he was so stubborn that he just wouldn't do what they wanted and just argued with them that they were wrong. So about all that got hurt was the home page on his browser.

    Personally I just wasted their time and would thank them for calling and say my computer was acting up and all slow. I would tell them it was booting but to be patient as it would take a few minutes. Then I would say oh something says it installed something and I need to reboot again. I would do this over and over until they hung up. Didn't take my time as they were on speaker phone and I would only talk to them during compiles.

    Also the phone conversational radio show Wiretap by CBC seemed to keep them on the line for a long while.
  • They finally got them.
    And $188,000..., sounds like everyone will get their money back!

  • by Barryke (772876) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:11PM (#41544091) Homepage

    They called me once, i recorded the conversation and trolled the guy. http://barrystaes.nl/scambait/ [barrystaes.nl]

    I always assumed they where in Indonesia and used compromised voip exit servers in their victims country..

  • It's too bad these "regulators" haven't smashed the banksters financial scam of fiat (ie. worthless) currency. $3 ttttrillion (and counting) in taxpayer losses and not one person in prison.
  • Yes I received calls, 3 in about 3 months, they did not stay on the phone long.

    1st time - Caller: "You have a problem with your Microsoft Windows".
    Me: "I run Linux"
    Caller: Hangs up

    2nd time - Caller: "You have a problem with your Computer".
    Me: "How do you know which one, I have 6"
    Caller: Hangs up

    3rd time - Caller: "Your computer...."
    Me: Hangs up

    It is good they have been taken down, after working on helpdesks in the past I imagine many non-technical users would fall for a scam such as this.
  • How did they pay? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spud1955 (879933) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:55PM (#41545157)
    I assume that the people who were scammed had to pay via creditcard. Why didn't they just block that? Worked against wilileaks Sorry if this is a dumb question
  • by beanpoppa (1305757) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:29PM (#41545589)
    I tried to keep them on the phone, as keeping them busy is the worst thing you can do to annoy them. I spent the entire 45 min ride home from my daughter's gymnastics on with them yesterday. She was amused by the conversations. The funny thing is, I don't know how these guys can make any money. I spend much of my day working with people with Indian accents, and I'm pretty good at understanding them. But these guys are inaudible. I have a sense of what they are trying to tell me to do, and I still can't figure it out! "Press the 4-flagged windows key on the lower left quadrant of your keyboard". Forget about when the guy was trying to tell me what URL to go to. I wanted to know what service they were using, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what URL he was trying to tell me to get to!
  • by goodgod43 (1993368) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:48PM (#41545635)

    I switched my elderly mother to Ubuntu a few years back and she recieved one of these calls. Acording to her it went something like this.

    Caller: This is *** from *** we noticed that there is somthing wrong with your computer and we are calling to help you fix it.
    Her: Okay, let me get on my computer. What's wrong with it?
    Caller: We have recieved notification from your computer that it has spyware on it. It has notified us and we are calling to help.
    Her: Okay, I'm in front of my computer. What do I do?
    Caller: First, click on the start button.
    Her: I don't have a start button.
    Caller: It's the icon on the lower left that says start.
    Her: I don't have one of those. I have Yoobunto, Ewebantoo, I don't know, my son put it on here...
    Caller: Please just click the button that says "Start".
    Her: But I don't have one of those.

    This apparently went on for several minutes. Finally she hung up and called me. If she was running Windows, she probably would have gone along with the scam. This is not to say that the problem is with Windows, but rather that, as long as MOST people use Windows, there will always be an idiot to be found and these scams will occur.

    But imagine the problems these callers would have if Debian, (or Debian based), systems were the norm...

    Caller: Okay, which desktop do you have installed?
    Her: Desktop? What do you mean?
    Caller: What does your screen look like?
    Her: Flowers. I found I nice picture of lilacs.
    Caller: Umm... Can you open a terminal?
    Her: What's a terminal?

    I don't think these scammers would even gotten started.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      If there were enough technically ignorant people using Linux, it would happen in the same way. The whole point of this scam is that is social engineering, it's not like writing a system-specific virus.

      It's like phishing attacks, it really makes no difference which bank or software you use, if you're prepared to reveal your account details and login information to a stranger on the phone/by email, you're fucked anyway.
      • But this is where the Linux desktop confusion and social enginering breaks down. KDE, Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, Unity, Enlightenment, and on and on and on... There would not be a 'one size fits most' way of perpetuating this scam. Even if the user could be led to a website to download something, would it be .deb, .rpm, .tar.bz? Idiot users wouldn't know, and idiot scammers wouldn't be able to make money doing this sort of thing. As far as Phishing goes, Grandma has no idea that I update her computer remotely every

  • This was on the local TV news troubleshooter segment ("Turko Files") in San Diego a couple months ago.

    An elderly woman had called because somebody called her to tell her that her computer had a virus, and he was with Microsoft and could help her remove it. But first she had to "renew" her anti-virus subscription.

    As Turko says:

          "It's a scam!"

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      And how is a non-technical user supposed to differentiate between this scam and the warnings from the McAfee/Norton anti-virus bollocksware that came with a 1 month's trial subscription on their shiny new computer?
  • I get scam phone calls or SMS every once in a while. Why can't you just report their phone number to your own phone provider, and after a few complaints they get automatically disconnected if they are on the same phone network, banned if they are on a different one and reported to the authorities and fined whenever possible ? It's much easier to fight than spam since you have their phone number in most cases, like the SMS 'You have a message - call back this insanely overtaxed number'
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      because the phone carriers get a cut of those scams. 900 numbers cost a lot to operate
  • Got a call from them last week. Odd think was I had got a few of those "Application X has crashed" a few days previously. Normally I don't bother sending the reports (it's not like they'll actually fix anything) but it's possible I'd hit the wrong button once or twice.

    Almost had me convinced for a second, but I was pretty sure I'd never given Mickeysoft my phone number. But had it got to the point where they were asking me to install random stuff, well...

  • I got a call awhile ago, late at night. I was half asleep and couldn't understand their accent, but I heard something about my computer. I hung up, and later woke up enough to realize that it was a scam attempt.

    A few days ago, I got a similar message on my answering machine, and I couldn't understand them much better when I was awake. But I suppose it was believable; real helpdesk people are just as hard to understand.

  • ... only company authorized personnel can pretend to provide tech support?

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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