There’s a new tech scam happening, and this one could cost you a lot of money. This particular phone scam has been traced back to a few call centers in India, and those people are preying on the unsuspecting. The scam was uncovered by a security company called Malwarebytes - here’s how the scam works.
Con artists are using telephone directory lists to cold call people. Why? To tell those people that the work for Microsoft or “Microsoft Windows.” Once that recognition has been established, the scammers are telling people that their PCs are infected.
To further prove that the scammers are from Microsoft (and to gain trust), they ask the people they phone to pull up certain computer files and programs, and proceed to explain why what those people are looking at is problematic – the files and programs that people are looking at are, of course, perfectly fine, but most people do not know what a corrupt file looks like, so this is an easy scam.
After some kind of trust has been established, the scammers then tell victims that the problem can be fixed for a fee. This fee turns out to be hundreds of dollars, and many people are paying it. What happens after the fee is paid? Using a service called LogMeIn, the scammers are gaining remote access to computers and “fixing” the problem.
The Root Cause
In October of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission put a freeze on the online bank accounts of various tech companies that were based in Indian and one in Canada. The freeze worked for a short while (since money is transferred to scammers using an online payment system), but it has not stopped additional scammers from popping up across the globe. The truth of it is that there are too many fake tech companies, and too many people that are not aware of the current scams happening.
The biggest group of victims has been seniors that are largely unaware of the fact that Microsoft does not place such calls. The best way to stop these people from scamming older people out of tons of money is to share an article like this one, or just call someone you know that might be tricked into believing that Microsoft is really offering to fix computers for a fee. Governments, thus far, are relatively powerless when it comes to stopping such scammers, since so many different “tech” companies pop up in countries like India on a daily basis, and it’s really hard to find the people responsible for such scams.
How many people are being tricked in this particular scheme? Call centers are making upwards of 3,000 phone calls per day – most of those to the U.S. and Canada. This is a multimillion-dollar business that’s all too easy to operate with a desk, a phone, a call list, and decent English skills. If you do get a phone call like this one, know that Microsoft does not make such calls, and hang up the phone immediately. It’s also important to pass this information on.