Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sassing the Computer Scammers

Deadly files. Secret files.
(Yeah, it's the Google private
browsing icon.)
I was doing a little maintenance on my Mac when the phone rang. Nothing major; a couple of screws on the bottom had worked loose, and I had decided to get them set properly. I had taken the further step of removing all the screws and blowing the dust out of my computer. It kept my hands busy.

Anyway, the phone rings and a woman with an Indian accent is on the line. She tells me that she is from Computer Support and Services. Then I knew it. It was one of those scams where they convince you to download a trojan and take remote access of your computer, in addition to getting your credit card number so they can run up hundreds of dollars of “support charges,” as they actually compromise your computer.

Their target, of course, are those people who are not versed in the workings of computers. Not me. But she had me on the line.

“Yes sir/ma’am, our reports say that your computer is downloading deadly files and trojans.” She really did say “sir/ma’am,” not that she pronounced the slash, but her script probably indicated she should say one or the other, so she said both. I could have hung up, but my hands were busy. What the hell.

“Deadly?” I asked, “you mean like Ebola? Am I going to get Ebola from my computer?”

She assured me that I would not get Ebola from my computer, but that the files were “deadly.” At what point are you supposed to realize that I’m totally fucking with you, lady? She actually persisted, telling me I needed to turn on my computer and she would show me that my computer was being compromised.

I asked her whether this was happening right now, and what the file names were. “The deadly files have names, don’t they?” She couldn’t name the files, but assured me that I really needed to go to my computer so she could help me. At this time, my computer was face down as I checked the screws to make sure I had aligned and tightened them properly.

I was almost done when she transferred me to her supervisor. He was no more willing to answer my questions, although when I pressed him for one piece of information, he did tell me that I was running the Windows operating system. It’s possible to run Windows on a Mac; I’ve even done it. However, I don’t have a Windows boot partition on this Mac. That was years ago.

“I have two very important pieces of information for you,” I told him. I suppose it really was three, since the third was “I’m done with my computer maintenance and about to hang up on you,” but he didn’t let me finish and hung up on me instead. So he missed the two important pieces of information.
I doubt he’s going to read this blog post, but here are the two other pieces of information:
  • I’m running OS X 10.10, not any version of Windows.
  • He was a fucking scammer.
I’ve checked my phone records. No big surprise: annoyance callers are now going to hidden telephone numbers. In the records, the origin of this phone call is listed as “private.”

I had a little time to kill and I feel I did my part in making their scam a little less efficient and therefore a little less profitable.

Update: They called back. This time, I was terribly busy and said so. "I don't have time today to listen to your scam." When I insisted that he was a lying scammer, he let loose with an amazing array of obscenity.
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