Last weekend I was fortunate to get a cold call which when you hear the first few words you know it's a scam, normally I would just put the phone down but I wasn't the one who answered the phone and they managed with no difficultly to get past my first line of defense (another family member). So how do they know these details, well it's not hard to get this sort of info, the electrol roll matched to the phone directory - all bound to be sound on the open market - basic marketing data sold on and on to the point that it's being used illegally.
So I decided to have a bit of fun, to see how long I could string them along - see end of post for some audio of the conversation (headphones recommended). The last time I did this was when someone called me saying they could do me a better deal on the cost of my phone calls, to which I asked how they were going to better a deal that doesn't currently costs me anything.
Before I go through the details of the call I'll give a quick overview of the scam. You'll be picked a random from their list to be called and they'll imply that there systems have detected a slow response coming from your computer and would like to sort the problem out. They'll ask you if you have a computer and could you go to it and look at a part of the windows logs (Event Viewer) to give the impression that your computer has problems. Then they'll ask you to download some software from a website, this is the sting where the software could do anything, you're as good as installing there malware for them. Then the scammer attempts to get their reward where for a fee they'll offer to remove offending virus's they say you have - It's all a con and if you follow any instructions they give on your computer then you're good as opening up your computer to the whole world.
Well I was never going to fall for this in a month of Sunday's, as I'm usually the first point of call from family & friends requesting tech support from me.
Let the FUN commence:-
An Indian girl starts going through a short script explaining that they're router has identified a slow response coming from my PC and they're calling to check everything is ok. The art to not playing ball with these type of calls is to response with answers/questions that are less likely to form part of their script responses.
Having said they've identified a slow response they asked if I have a computer to which I responded "What is a computer?" and proceed to have them explain what they are meaning, whether it is like a fax machine. I finally gave them the impression that I now had a rough idea from them of what a computer was and had access to one although I'm woolly on whether it was mine, works etc..
Next they ask me to go and switch my computer on, now there's a difference between switching on a computer and saying you have - for my part in this exchange I just said to my Indian cold caller than I had switched it on but was nowhere near my computer through out this phone call. Time for the next phase of Operation String Along - I wait a couple of minutes, pretending the computer is booting up with them during this time asking if I'd switched it on and me saying yes then a finally response of "It's on a screen which says 'Checking system files - 2%'", this confused them but they were quite happy to see the progress of this message through, although my made up screen text I relayed wasn't in there script - so I put the phone down for a few minutes.
When I next pick up the phone they were still there on the other end eagerly awaiting an update to which I responded "It's now saying 3%", this went on and on with me edging the % progress another notch when twenty minutes later I was saying it was at 15% which it stayed stuck at for the next 10minutes. Now if I was giving tech support then I would of quickly worked out that at this rate I was going to be here all day and would make my excuses to end the call but these guys were very happy to wait it out.
Next phase now was to see what would it take for them to end the call, so I asked them as this was taking along time to resolve could they help with something else while I waiting - first I asked them if they can solve problems with televisions, then I moved onto trying to get them to help with a printer problem. Well they couldn't help with my television problem but were happy to help with the printer problem but not until they resolve my computer problem, to which I said my computer problem is going to take all day at this rate and whilst we're waiting could help me with my printer problem.
At this point she was getting lost in how to deal with the call and wanted to put me through to a senior technical person who by coincidence sits next to her. Now over half an hour had passed and it was clear they were going stick at this so it was time to quickly bring this to an end - so I told the 'senior' guy I wasn't happy with the service I was getting, I'd asked for help with sorting out my printer whilst we waited and that I wasn't happy to wait until the computer problem was resolved first. During this part of the discussion I questioned them on how they got my details and where they were based, the answers they gave didn't make much sense, they said they got the information from the International Routing System, then said it came from the info entered when you register Windows. I asked whether they were based - Salt Lake City the response (unlikely), also I asked if they get the information from Microsoft to which they said yes, so I tripped them up by saying I never registered windows - at this point they were starting to trip themselves up.
I finally brought the call to an end when they said they'd have to put me through to their technical support team in order to resolve my issues but the sting in the tail which is the point to this whole scam if I'd allowed the call to follow their script is that they would be a charge of £29 for this service if they were able to solve the problem. I gave them a minute to put me through and solve to my problem but they wasted that time and I decided to terminated the call.
Whilst this was all going on I dug out a mic and connected it to my ipod to record some of the conversation (last 8 minutes of the call) - now this was unplanned so the result isn't the best with me sounding loud and the other side being very quiet but it's still worth listening to as you'll get a good idea of the call from mostly my side and when listened through headphones you can pick up good parts of the other side.
I've posted my clips using SoundBoard which also allow comments be to added to the track which I thought would be useful to allow listeners to do.
(Listen through headphones recommended)
Clip by lakeuk
Clip by lakeuk
Some websites I've found where others have come across this type of scam:-
Theo Gray - Blog Post
Money Watch - Blog
Computer World - Austrailia