Today I received a call from a guy who said he worked for a Microsoft subsidiary based in Liverpool. His pitch was that their computer systems were laden with emails that had come from my computer and, because his company was in the business of computer security, he could tell that my computer had been compromised and was bulging with viruses.
I asked him to forward me some example emails, but he declined, saying they weren’t allowed to do this.
His accent was Indian - and I’d read a couple of articles about this sort of scam being run out of India. I played along with it for a while.
His proposal was that I go to my computer and launch the Event Viewer; “You are on Windows 7 aren’t you Mr Tomlinson?” he asked. This last bit was another clue to the scam: if his story was even remotely true, he’d have known what OS I used on my computer.
I knew I was on safe ground: his call came in on our private line and our computers are hooked up to the business line. Therefore this guy’s outfit probably wasn’t going to be able to hijack my machine whilst we were speaking on a different line.
He was disbelieving when I said that I’d launched the Event Viewer and followed up by asking me how I knew how to do that. When I told him I was a software developer, he replied that “In that case, I’d be easy to help” and hung-up pronto!
The Guardian has an article on this from 2010 (here), so it’s an old problem.
What’s surprising is that the scammers are clearly telephoning Brits living and working in France. (Maybe they are also phoning French people too, though I doubt Indian scammers would be up to that.)
If you’re not clear about this: when you get a call like this, hang up! It’s a scam that could be expensive.