Four days ago, I was targeted by a telephone scam. Out of the blue, I received a call from a person, confirming my name and address, and claiming I had a virus on my PC which he could fix. I had never heard of this particular scam and so went along with him for a while to see where it would lead to. I knew it must have been a scam, as how could a complete stranger know what I had on my computer?
I was asked to go to my PC (well, as a web designer I was in the middle of a new internet site for a customer in Nottingham and so my computer was already on) and directed to the Windows Event Viewer. Now I have never really completely understood this application, and even to me it looks like a long list of worrying errors, warnings and system crashes. I know this is “normal” and nothing to worry about, but to other users, it could look horrific.
The voice on the telephone confirmed that I was in the right place and that the overview displayed on my screen within the Windows Event Viewer indicated the presence of a virus. I feigned dismay but was quickly reassured that there was a simple fix, and that they are trained by Microsoft to remove the virus and restore my PC to a clean bill of health.
I was asked to open my browser and navigate to a certain Internet Website and there to click and accept the download and installation of a program. At this point, I refused, and starting asking how he knew originally that I had a virus on my PC.
To begin with, he avoided answering my question by using the Windows Event Viewer on my screen as definitive proof of the virus. When I replied, ok, but how did he know it was going to show this given that he could not access this from his office, he started saying my PC had come up on a report. I continued with ok, but how did my PC come up on a report given that he could not access my PC from his office, and he replied with my Internet Service Provider monitors my activity and it was they who had sent my details. When I continued with ok, but how did my Internet Service Provider monitor my PC given that they could not access my PC, he hung up.
It was a rehearsed script. He had some replies to my direct question of how did he know I had a virus, but after a certain time, he had obviously been trained to accept it as a bad job and hang-up (presumably before ringing the next name and number on his list)
This left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and a deep anger towards the people who could think of and perform this type of scam. However it got worse. This morning, one of Net Quality’s clients received exactly the same phone call. It was the same virus telephone scam. The particular client is in the same area as Net Quality and obviously these people are working through a list of names and numbers based on geographic boundaries. Luckily he did not respond to the scam, although he rang me in a panic asking me to fix his PC.
Luckily he did not fall for the scam. He followed all the instructions and had got to the program download and installation phase when he asked what would this software do, and how much would it cost. The answers were amazing – the program was a sort of “remote accesses” file which would hand complete control over to the company, who could then access and perform any operation on the remote PC. And for this they were asking for a fee of £185 for a subscription to their preventative service.
I have therefore decided to write up an account of this virus telephone scam in order to warn everyone to not fall for it. Never allow anyone access to your PC...and never pay for any service which comes out of the blue as a cold call. You can always contact us with any questions or concerns (and this applies to customers and non-customers alike) and we will always reply and share our experience and expertise.