Microsoft Called Me!

The phone rang. A nice man with an Indian accent called from an interstate phone number. He was calling to tell me that I have numerous problems with my Windows computer! He said he is calling from Microsoft Windows Support to help me – great, finally some service from Microsoft! Understanding this was a scam, I placated the caller, while trying to find out as much information as possible – 23 minutes I was on the phone for…

They first provided me with the number 88dca60, which they said identified my machine – it was the number being sent to the Microsoft error servers eveytime I logged onto the internet! Then they directed me to the Windows button in the bottom left of the screen… I paused and said – is that the one shaped like an Apple in the top of the screen? After a little more banter he asked me to load up my Windows machine… which I did 😉

He then directed me to the windows command prompt to type in “assoc”. One of the bottom entries indeed contained this string of characters, but this number is not unique to the computer, but to the operating system (ie: millions of computers with Windows installed have this number). This was “proof” for me that they knew my computer was having problems.

After “proving” to me that the machine they were talking about was mine, they got me to open Event Viewer to check the errors for the system – just to show me that there were errors, I assume because they did not want any more information about it, except for the number of errors there (I said “3”, when really it was more like 760 – I knew there was nothing out of the ordinary with these reports). At this point, the person I was talking to said he was going to get his supervisor. After speaking briefly with the supervisor, I asked what “The device, \Device\CdRom0, has a bad block.” meant in the error log (it means that I put a cd in that had a bad block – probably had a scratch on it – so really NOTHING wrong with my computer, based on that) – he said that I must have a virus that relates to the CDROM – “where I put CDs and DVDs into my computer”…

They then directed me to http://join.me to download the application there, which I assume they use to connect remotely to computers to gain deeper access.. I kept the people on the line saying that it was saying it was going to take 5 minutes to download the software. During the chit chat while we waited for the software to download he asked me if I was the primary user of the computer (this was about the fourth time I was asked this – each time saying yes I was)… I answered him this time saying: “Sometimes my partner uses it, and a couple of her friends sometimes, and my Dad, and sometimes my Mum, and my eldest son, and a couple of people at work… interrupting his response oh and one of my friends’ computers is broken so he uses it sometimes… interrupting his response again and my partner’s brother…” he was rather alarmed saying that that is a lot of people – I said, yeah, but I am the primary user of the computer…

It was at the point of installing the software that I said that I had had enough and I let the cat out of the bag that I had been stringing them along and that he was trying to scam me and I was going to report him. He was adamant that it was not a scam and that my computer was at risk, and if I wanted to lose all of my data, then do nothing. He then hung up.

During the conversation, I asked what company they were calling from and they said “Windows Support Team” which was not Microsoft, but was a Microsoft registered support company. I also asked if they have a website, to which they answered yes and provided me with the following website: http://www.livetechcare.com – obviously I can’t be sure it was actually that company – the Australian phone number was VERY similar, but not the same as the one quoted on that website…

I have reported this to http://scamwatch.gov.au/ and https://complaint.ic3.gov/ and the website that they provided as their company – the form returned a 500 internal server error on submission, so I doubt they got my report…

Good clean fun – and I stopped them from spending 23 minutes on the phone to some poor unsuspecting bugger who may not know any better…