Monday, July 04, 2011

Cold Phone Call - International Routing System Scam

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
Eaton Bray
Computer World - Austrailia


warriet said...

all too familiar - I seem to recur on the list every few weeks or so and really can't be bothered any more except to spread the word amongst those who turn to me for IT advice

Anne Nichols said...

I like your style Dave! I've shared this with my friends on Facebook as it may entertain some and educate others! :)

Dean Thorpe said...

I normally just say I am the baby sitter or if I am feeling nasty I say I am happy to talk to them, but just need to turn the dinner down, but I will be back in a minute, at that stage I put the phone in the fridge for an hour, that's what I call cold calling! lol

Anonymous said...

Damn crooks

Anonymous said...

Hi, (from Holland) just to let you know this scam is still going strong as of June, 20th of 2012. Regards, thanks for your really funny recorded conversation.

Anonymous said...

Wow this exact thing happened to me this morning.So as we are talking I tell the phone rep to hold and Google this so called company.Thanks, as I found this blog and was reassured it was a scam.I swear I gotta stop trusting people so easily. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Got a call in Ohio (USA) this morning. I enjoyed screwing with them too! I asked the Indian guy for some info like their phone #, then asked for the address, in which he gave me some partial address of which I asked him to repeat it and he gave me my zip code. When I told him that was mine he told me it wasn't. Hahaha. I told him I know where I live!! He eventually hung up so I called the number back he gave me. Got another Indian guy (or possibly the same). He tried to tell me he was in Utah. I told him the guy told me he was in New York. He said they are global. I said well the phone number I called has a New York zip code. He then tried to tell me Utah was in upstate New York. I told him Utah is half way across the country from New York. He hung up. Then when I called back he said "oops we got disconnected". So, we spoke some more. I asked him for someone who didn't have an accent b/c he was very hard to understand with his Indian accent. He said he wasn't Indian, that he was Spanish. I said OH GOOD! Let's speak in Spanish then, I will be able to understand you better. I spoke in Spanish (something my 8 year old knew) and he didn't know what I was saying and then proceeded to say his mom only taught him how to say Hola. Ok, I am rolling now!!! We talked a little more. He ended up pretending like he couldn't hear me anymore and disconnected the call. It was a good 15 minutes of fun for me!!! Thanks for the blog so I could share in the fun!!

Anonymous said...

Had to share my video with you. I had my 3 year old daughter call them about a computer problem!

Mary Lou Rosato-Caine said...

Thanks Dave, "Sam" out of New York called this morning, mind you I'm half asleep, having my first cup of coffee. Told him to call back later. When he did I asked him a bunch of questions, then hung up on him as he continued to ramble on. When I looked up International Routing System, your blog popped up. Very help and confirmed my suspicions. Love that you got sound bites too~nice work, lets hear for the good guys!

Lakshman said...

I just had one of these calls and very disturbingly it was on my mobile. If I had been abroad this call would have cost me! Gave her the run around and wasted as much as possible!

Joshua said...

This is still going on 10/09/2013! Thanks for your blog you saved me precious time.

Unknown said...

Still happening. Wonder what they are looking for.

Unknown said...

Just happened May 17th 2014!!!!!

Unknown said...

still happening Sat May17th 2014


I had this happen to me just this morning. I was all to confused, they were telling me that they were receiving some kind of signal from my reaction "what?! Shouldn't my internet provider should be calling me?"

The big problem was I couldn't understand what he was saying, asking for my home computer and such. I lied to him, "I Don't have a computer, I have a laptop." Then they wanted me to press the windows button and hold "r" to startup the "run" window.

From there he wanted me to enter, "Evan=" or something of the sort, I had him repeat it multiple times until my father was telling me to just hang up.

I honest wanted to play around with them for a bit, was going to pull the old "oops my laptop's battery ran out of power".

Oh well =_____=;

Anonymous said...

This happened tonight (July 20, 2015) I kept "Rosie" on the phone for 15-20 minutes, asked what type of windows (XP, Vista, 7 8.1 etc.) Windows XP, good guess given that over half the computers have it. Asked what IP address it was coming from, "oh that's confidential private information" umm not really. I finally insisted I was not interested, did not believer her and to take us of the call list. I then hung up, they called right back, within 2-3 minutes asking how we got disconnected. This is worrisome that they are so persistent, there has to be some serious money to be made if they get you sucked into their scam, I can't see working this hard or long for any other reason.

Unknown said...

Just got a phone call now saying that my router is sending out faulty signals. I now about this scam and then replied, that he should get a decent job rather than scamming people. The guy then very aggressively replied "You F*** B*** go to hell.
That just showed what kind of people are doing this.

Anonymous said...

I get these calls about once a month, and it's especially funny for me because I don't use Windows to go online...I use Linux. So I know right away they're just making it up, telling me I have a Windows problem. One thing that is so interesting is that they all seem to have the same mindset...stick with the con and hope to get some money at the end somehow. I chatted with one guy and found out he was from Sudan, asked him if it would be a nice place to visit, etc., and he was not going to give up. So finally I told him thanks for being so concerned about my computer and hung up on him (he who hangs up first is the winner). That annoys them...I had a guy call me right back one time just so he could hang up on ME.