Computer Repair Scam Telephone Call Still Claims Victims

Some of you have probably gotten these calls and hung up. If you haven’t been called beware.  This is going on across the USA. I received  a call from a friend yesterday who needed to unlock his  computer which was held ransomed by a gang from India. Here’s how the scam goes. An agent will call you and tell you they are from Microsoft, AOL, or some other trusted company and they need to take over control of your computer to fix the problem. If you let them take control they will ask you to go to a link or run a small piece of software they put on your computer. This bogus anti-virus program runs for a few minutes and then shows results which indicate your computer is infected. (The results come up so fast that more experienced computer users would know that it couldn’t have possibly scanned the entire computer). These results are fictional and often are just entries in your Windows registry file.  If you agree to let them fix it they will start making changes which will allows them to lock you out unless you pay anywhere from $100-500 dollars to be sent by Western Union or some other third party payment system. If you refuse they will lock you out. Sometimes they will give you a number to call back later and pay the  money after a few hours of hopelessly trying to restart your computer. If you don’t have a backup and will lose important information you don’t have much choice.  In today’s case, I’m pretty sure they didn’t encrypt (scramble the hard drive) because the technique I used to get it to unlock worked unless they were really bad amateurs!  I called the thugs back to have some fun and a guy picked up after twenty rings who answered “Secure PC” with what sounded like an Indian accent. Sometimes the caller ID will come from a local number. Note that It’s easy to create a virtual local phone number on Skype or Google Talk. That’s what security experts recognize as a good social engineering technique. Don’t let anyone scam you on the phone into letting them take control of your computer– ever. Honestly had this been real ransomware the disk would have been encrypted and unreadable. Fortunately, my friend was able to use his PC again. Corporations have been held hostage for millions of dollars because it’s cheaper for them to pay the ransom. Think before you give over control of your computer to someone calling you on the phone or it may cost you hundreds of dollars.


Author: Howard Sobel

Co-Founder, Windows User Group Network (WUGNET) Chairman, Association of Software Professionals 2014- Present Co-Founder,

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