Scam Artists

I decided to write this post, because of a phone call I had with my Aunt this evening. I'll start by laying all the cards on the table of the situation.

  • My Aunt is on the sunset side of 60, and isn't the greatest with technology (though she can email, etc).
  • She owns a 2 year old MacBook

So, what happened?

Well, it started in the late afternoon, with three phone calls. When my Aunt answered the phone, there was no one on the other end of the line, and then a few seconds later, a recording saying "Thank you for you call".

The fourth call had an Indian sounding man on the line, who started by claiming that the company he worked for was receiving "Error Messages from your Microsoft Computer".

My Aunt found this odd, not because she has an Apple MacBook (because she doesn't really know the difference), but because the Guy didn't give her any information about himself.

She asked what his name was, and for a phone number, so she could call back (this was so she could ask me about it all). Well, he gave her some innocuous name like "John Brown" (not a really Indian name), but no contact phone number.

"John Brown" continued to inform my Aunt that her "Microsoft Computer" was sending error messages to their computer. He also asked for her name.

My Aunt in reply asked what details he had of hers? eg her email address. "John Brown" still continued to insist that her "Microsoft Computer" was sending error messages to their system, and that it was a virus.

Now I give props to my Aunt, as she didn't buy into this attempt at phishing, and ended up hanging up on "John Brown".

My Aunt then called me and told me about what happened. I explained that first, she didn't have a "Microsoft Computer", that the likelihood of her computer having a virus was slim to none. I also pointed out that there is no way they would have been able to get her phone number from them receiving "Error Messages" from her "Microsoft Computer". They (if they were legit) would have to have contacted her ISP, and they wouldn't have handed them her contact details. So, I told her that she had done the right thing.

I could easily see others with little technical knowledge falling for this scam. I don't know where it was heading, and what information they were trying to find out, but it just shows that you truly need to be wary of cold calls.

So to sum up, if you or a less technically minded friend/relative get a cold call asking techie questions and blaming you for causing problems, I'd suggest you do the following.

  1. Ask for or confirm the name of the person you are talking to.
  2. Find out the company they are calling from.
  3. Get a contact number (which could still be fake), and ask if you can call them back.
  4. Hang up.
  5. Talk to someone that does have a clue about computers and find out if there is even a remote chance that your computer could be causing problems.

Bon Soir.


EDIT: I've just had the following Blog post pointed out to me 
It seems like Garry's post is what this scam was leading to if my Aunt hadn't hung up on the call. Please read Garry's post too.

Leave a Reply