Microsoft Scams as a Service

I just call from a company called Commandra telling me that this was a FREE checkup call for all Microsoft Windows users (bless). John was ringing me to let me know that they wanted to check that my computer did not have lots of “malicious parts” corrupting it.

Now I have had a lot of stories about these scams, but I have never been rung directly so I put the phone onto speaker, got all the staff in the office to gather round and then followed his instructions.

I was first told to turn on my PC (he did not register that I was typing on my system as he spoke to me) so I went and got out a Tablet PC running Windows 8 Developer Preview. He talked me through pressing the “windows button” on the keyboard – although I explained there was no keyboard on the device. He started to get confused so I just told him I have the menu up. Next I was instructed to bring up the “Run” box and type in “Eventvwr”, which I did.

Now this brought up the event viewer which shows what alerts the system is generating and for each alert tries to provide a link on how to resolve it. Nothing major and I have never seen a machine without at least one alert or another. I was told not to click on ANY of the entries as doing so would cause my computer to stop working. I was then asked to count the number of red crosses and warning triangles that I could see. At this point John got rather excited. Apparently the Errors are “very dangerous corrupting software” and are affecting the “applications and system parts with much very badly“.

If I don’t fix these problems apparently my computer will stop working and “20 errors are enough to corrupt your computer“. Just out of interest the machine I am typing on currently has 7313 of these alerts and is working fine. I started reporting to John that I had a full page of errors (There is a smart card reader in the tablet, but the W7 drivers do not work in W8) and he started to panic. “OMG OMG OMG you have more than 50! If you don’t fix up your problems your computer will stop working. There are lots of errors and your computer has a very critical condition – it will stop working in a few days.”  

John then told me that his company can fix all these errors for FREE. It will be working like a “Brand New Computer” and he will put me through to a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer who will help me. I thanked John for his time and was put on to Ricky.

This is great, now Ricky is going to sort all my problems. Ricky said that the computer is “affected by lots of warnings and errors and if they persist for a long time then it will stop functioning” – am I glad these guys rang me.

Ricky explained to me that once I put in the code to activate the Software Warranty on the computer then the computer will run “10 to 20 x faster“. With the help of this code all the corrupt software on the computer, scanner, camera, printer and TV will be taken care of. Also on my iPod and tablet – this sounds great.

Ricky then got me to type in the address for LogMeIn and then it came up with a screen asking for a code. Now LogMeIn is a good product, it just needs to be used with trusted people. Now to get my code I needed to speak to Prince – we’re nearly there now.

Prince said that for only £89 they would provide 1 years software support for all machines in our household. I asked what happens if we get disconnected and he said just to ring him back on 0191 645 1644 for all free support and ask for Prince – strange that they didn’t sound like they were in Newcastle, more like Mumbai.

Now I do have a few servers that need reconfiguring and while that price did seem attractive I did not want to hand over my credit card details at that point. Prince then told me “Don’t worry, we use 256bit encryption and are covered by the trade descriptions act so its very secure. All data is recorded.”

I did think about letting them struggle for a while trying to get an ActiveX plugin to install on a browser which does not support it, and it would have been great to see their faces when they hit the Windows 8 start menu remotely. It was time to end this. I was asked for a name and an email address, so I gave a false name, but a genuine email address, so lets see if anything arrives on that for me. I then put the phone down and had a quick conversation with a) the police, b) the Microsoft Partner team.

So if you get a similar phone call then by all means see how long you can stay on the phone. Or if you get free local calls then why not give them a ring and ask them to fix your computer remotely before you wipe it.

I really do hope they ring back, that way I can get a Terminal Server box ready so I can record what they do.

 

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