OR Phone Scam Meets Internet Fraud (the perfect storm–almost)
V02051038560003119-2696: That’s the phone number that showed up on my caller ID. Usually, I don’t answer calls from numbers like this, but providence won this morning. It’s not everyday that I get to share a personal experience of foiled Internet fraud.
The call was from a very polite, foreign-sounding man, claiming to be a “Certified Microsoft Technician.” He warned me that my computer was sending out viruses, that many important processes of Microsoft windows had been shut down, and my computer was in danger of stopping. His script was perfect. In the background, I could hear other phone operators working the same script.
Intuition flickered. (Amazing that this man could line up the phone number of the computer owner of a computer sending out viruses–something the US government can’t do, at least not without a warrant.)
I asked for more information.
“Yes, Ma’am. I can show you the Microsoft processes that have been shut down on your system.” He then walked me carefully, step-by-step to the Computer Management window to show me the “errors.” Those red exclamation points might look scary, but this is just a log of activity from the applications I run. Sometimes those apps have an error–hello red circle.
“Oh dear. That looks terrible.” I tell him.
“Now, I will show you the many stopped Microsoft functions.” From the RUN menu, he takes me into System Config where more ‘alarming’ evidence proves that my machine is in peril.
“Ma’am. I am happy to help you fix this problem and restore your Microsoft Windows functions. All you have to do is go to: www.teamviewer.com and click on the DOWNLOAD button.
Incredible! He’s asking me to hand over control of my computer. (Incidentally: this is a legitimate website and the perfect tool for when your Grandma calls, asking if you can help her change her screensaver.)
I ask, “And how do I know this is safe?”
He assured me that I could disengage the connection at any time, and then he offered to show me his “official” website–Global Network Support (http://gns24x7.us/). Here it is.
Notice anything funny?
This screenshot is from the “About Us” section. “We Have Propositions For Everbody”. Legitimate corporate websites just don’t have typos on this level–three (if you count the capitalized preposition) in one header is a big red flag. And the Microsoft logo on the HOME screen is just a little fuzzy—another red flag.
All of it screamed fraud. I asked him, “And how can I know that you really are employed by Global Network Support?” At that, he hung up.
That was fun because nothing bad happened, but whoever masterminded this call, is targeting security’s weakest link—the humans who run the machines. I have excellent security on my computers, but if I had gone along with this scam, this criminal would have bypassed all that security to find my personal and financial information, including social security numbers of my children, and in about three clicks, he could have my computer commandeered and turned into a bot, sending out viruses.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid Internet scams:
● Pay attention to the money flow: Who paid this man to call and warn me as a public service? Are they asking you to pay now?
● Look for weirdness: does anything you see seem even slightly ‘off’? It probably is. Look at URLs. Do they follow standard protocol? (Microsoft.com/big-long-URL is very different from Microsoft.big-long-deceptive-URL-here.com.
● Report Internet fraud here: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
● Report phone fraud here: http://www.stopfraud.gov/report.html
Categories: Cyber Safety