Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hoping for idiots

I got a phone call today from a company claiming that they got messages "From your Microsoft computer telling us that there is a trojan on your computer."  So let's get this straight.  My computer, which apparently is a Microsoft computer for no known reason, is sending messages about trojans that are on it to some random company on the internet.  It isn't telling ME this for some reason... but these guys get the message instead.  The guy on the line tells me in a thick Indian accent that my computer is known to have a trojan and that he wants to help me fix it.

Well gawrsh, I guess I don't want trojans... do you want my SIN number and bank account information, or is my credit card number good enough?  Maybe you would like my firstborn child too?

I was curious to see what they wanted me to do so I let the guy walk me through how to save my computer from trojans.  First off he tells me to turn my computer on, then asks me to start up internet explorer.  I figure from this there is some kind of correlation between people who are both idiots and computer illiterates and those who use internet explorer.  I inform him that I use Chrome (and if you don't, why?  Use it!)  and he gives me *very* basic directions for how to find the URL bar, erase what is currently in it and enter (DON'T CLICK INSTALL!!!).  It turns out that teamviewer is a program designed to help you remotely control other computers; this has plenty of legitimate uses of course but the buffoon next tells me to install the teamviewer software!  I don't want trojans Mr. Elite Internet Squad Expert Dood but I think I draw the line at installing software specifically allowing you to remotely control my machine.

Here is the saddest thing; people fall for this.  Nobody goes around making these sorts of calls unless they work and actually enable the thief to nab credit card data and steal lots of money with it.  Obviously the failure rate is through the roof but eventually if you make enough calls you find somebody clueless enough to listen to "I am from the internet!  Do whatever I say!" and you get to destroy them financially for your own profit.  There are people out there who spend all day calling random folks out of the public directory trolling for suckers to steal from.  I have had jobs that suck, and jobs that *really* suck, but that job has to be the absolute worst.  Not only do you spend the entire day being insulted, hung up on and ignored but you know deep down that you absolutely deserve all that crap treatment.  Even when you 'win' and get somebody on the line who will let you complete your nefarious plan you only know that you found the biggest sucker around, read your script and got paid.  No satisfaction from a job well done, even on the best call you make.

I wonder if the police would be interested in this scam.  Obviously the crap these thieves are pulling is illegal but the number is a New York area code and I doubt very much the cops can do anything useful with it since pursuing a random phone thief you have no evidence against in another country is kinda rough.  Still, I think I will try and see.


  1. I'm willing to bet it's not actually a New York number. My money is it's a guy from India with a VOIP program spoofing a NY number. I'm also not sure he really understands what he's doing.

  2. I would second the bet on the guy in India spoofing a number. However, the way he answered my questions was clearly evasive and not clueless - he used his accent as a way to avoid and/or misinterpret my questions. He was entirely aware.

  3. If you want to report it, call 1-888-495-8501 or go to

    In fact their front page story right now is about exactly this scam.

  4. I would be amazed if the people who fell for this sort of thing even had much to steal >.>

  5. I don't think you understand just how computer illiterate some people are. In particular there are older people (like my grandmother) who know absolutely nothing about computers but have one solely so they can send emails.

    Heck, do you know the website scam where it pops up a message saying you have a virus? It looks like it's scanning your computer and then prompts you to install a removal tool which is the actual virus? I've had to stop coworkers from trying to install that because they think it's real.