Regular readers might remember my article (April 2011), on fraudulent online technical problem solvers – Is Online PC Care A Scam? – and, several additional articles dealing with this company’s attempts to have me remove what they considered an “offending” article. Fat chance of that happening.
When an unsolicited telephone call (from India), focusing on errors in Windows Event Viewer, is used in an attempt to convince me that my computer has serious problems, including a non-existing malware infection, then by any measure – that’s a scam.
Since this first experience with a “your computer is ready for the scrap heap” telephone call, I’ve had more than a few similar calls. My normal response is to simply disconnect the call – except for yesterday. I had a few spare minutes so, I decided – why not listen to the latest bullshit baffles brains sales pitch.
Having identified me by name and address – the “tech support specialist” led off by introducing himself as a representative of the “Windows Technical Department”. Better yet, I was assured that he was a “direct employee of Microsoft.”
Since Microsoft keeps a close eye on all computers running Windows (according to the support specialist), it had come to their attention that my machine was teeming with serious problems – with, a series of malware issues being most significant.
Wow, says I – how do you know that? Easy, says he – we keep track of your Event Viewer system logs. At which point, the scripted conversation got down to the “nitty-gritty” – with an instruction for me to open Windows Event Viewer. Since Event Viewer system logs can look pretty scary to an average user (despite the fact, that the event recorded is often insignificant), this is the heart of the scam.
Here’s an example of an insignificant recorded event. In the following graphic, Event Viewer indicates that the Volume Shadow Copy Service on this machine failed to start on boot.
This is not an unexpected event – given that I have disabled this service. If the Event Viewer didn’t show this error, then, I’d have something to worry about.
Once the “sales” process has gotten to this point, I suspect that the sales closing ratio is fairly high. After all, who wants to run a wonky machine when a solution is right at hand?
I had yet to get a word in edgewise as the caller ran through his script. Finally, I took control of the conversation and overpowered him with a rapid-fire series of technical questions – that’s when the script was dropped and the backtracking began. Since this is a PG rated site – I won’t relate the colorful language I used to callout this scammer. Except to say – my cursing vocabulary got a workout.
This scam technical support nonsense has been going on for so long now, that you might assume it has had its day – that we’ve reached the point where a typical user would know better than to be taken in.
Unfortunately not – typical computer users continue to pay little attention to warnings and alerts designed to warn them against sophisticated scams. On top of which, consumers are easily manipulated by well trained and persistent cold callers into ignoring common sense safety precautions.
As always, I ask that you as an experienced computer user, be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly those who are new computer users, and let them know that this type of scam continues at an epidemic rate.