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Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Call from Windows Service Center – A Scam

 

I don’t usually write about scams, but had a fun phone call this morning and thought I would just put out a warning for the 1 or 2 readers out there who may fall victim to such a scam.

I got a phone call from an unknown-name, unknown number. Well, actually my wife answered the call, and when I overheard the conversation I quickly asked for the phone before she hung up – I knew immediately what the call was about and I wanted to have some fun.

The caller starts off by identifying himself as working for Microsoft, and that the reason he is calling is that he wants to protect my computer from viruses. You see, apparently my computer has been sending him error messages, kind of an SOS message, and his job is to respond to these messages and help fix the problem. Its awfully nice of Microsoft to be looking out for me like this without having to even ask.

He asks me a bunch of questions, and asks me to click on things, and explore areas of my computer. I pretend to do what he is asking and make up some answers (meanwhile i have actually walked out to my backyard and am soaking up some sun). He asks me what version of windows I am using, I, not wanting to tell him anything about me that he doesn’t already know, that If he is with Microsoft, and my computer has been sending him errors, he should know this. He rambles on about IP’s or some other garbage, then moves on. I interrupt him, telling him someone is at the door and I put him on hold. I go for a pee, get a glass of water, and chat with my wife for a moment. I come back to the call and give him some long winded story about a vacuum salesman at my door and how I don’t need a vacuum as I have all hardwood floors etc etc. We eventually get back to this great customer service from “Microsoft.”

I am now back at my computer and he eventually he tells me to go to AMMYY.com (I didn’t want to get trapped, so I took a look at Google’s cached version of the page later). (UPDATE: AMMYY is a legit company. Please see note about them at the bottom of this post). He wants me to install some remote access software – that sounds like a great idea, I am sure I can trust this stranger. He asks me to click on the download button, so I pretend to do that, and he asks me what options I have. I tell him I have two options:

1.) Install Software & Get Scammed
2.) Hang up

He then goes on to explain how this is not a scam, so I replied with EXACTLY how his scam works and he still denied it! I then ranted on how he should get a real job at McDonalds or something (but in a much more ‘colorful’ way). He said, thank you sir, started to go on again about how it was not a scam, and that is when I hung up. I have things to do you know.

So here is how this scam generally works:

  • They call stating they are from Microsoft, IBM, Google, or some other big name
  • They tell you that your computer has been sending them error messages informing them you have a virus. They may use words like “Service ID, Service Code”, etc.
  • They get you to instal remote access software
  • They then install a Trojan on your machine right before your very eyes!
  • Next they tell you that it will only cost $X (I have heard anywhere from $20 to $200 per year) for their worry free service
  • Now if you continue to pay them every year, you will have no problems life will go on as normal (except they may be recording every keystroke you take)
  • The minute you stop, they release the Trojan and the poop hits the fan as your computer does things you don’t want it to do
  • You contact them and start paying again, and they make the problem they created go away
  • This cycle continues until well after you are dead (or pay a real computer tech to fix the problem)

So now you have been warned. If someone calls you claiming to be from anywhere and wants you to do anything, don’t do it, hang up and report it to your local police. I called the local RCMP and they informed me they have been getting hundreds of calls, but it sounds like most are just reporting it, not actually calls from people who have fallen victim.

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 14, 2013

Note about AMMYY.com

I was not sure if this remote access software was legit, or if it created by the scammers. But it appears now that AMMYY is an entirely legitimate company and is in fact a victim of these “call centre” scammers. AMMYY put up an official warning on their website warning people NOT to install their software if asked by someone they do not personally know. You can read their warning here: <a href=”http://www.ammyy.com/en/admin_mu.html” target=”_blank”>AMMYY Warning</a>

Thanks to Daniel who pointed this out in his comment earlier today.


82 Responses to “Call from Windows Service Center – A Scam”

  1. Frank

    They’re still at it.

    Overseas this time (Europe/Belgium). Couldnt be bothered to give that Indian accented person anymore than five seconds. Caller ID was from Brussels area, kinda wonder how they do that, I suspect Skype call out or something like that ?

  2. Patricia Wetterman

    Just got a call from these people…Phone number given is in Brooklyn, NY. 347-480-2300. Had some fun, got tired of his games, called the number on my cell phone and let the two men from the same company yell at each other…than hung up.

  3. Tisa

    I have been reviving such prank calls in my mobile since past 6 months .don’t know from where they got my number.Today it was probably 5th one and the heights when he said he is receiving error messages when I had formatted my laptop 2 days bk.I warned them not to call else i will intimate to the cop..Even after formatting my laptop 2 days bk he is saying he is getting some mallacious error messages in his web service center. Don’t know how to talk even.just crap person with crap mind.The number was 4256689652 ( Kirkland,WA).Be aware.don’t allow them to know anything about ur laptop.

  4. Tom

    I toyed with one of these guys who called himself Adam. I made him repeat himself a lot of times. I offered him a credit card number to pay for the service, and then told him to take the numbers from the CC and apply each to the letters on the numbers on his phone(ie 2 is A,B,C – 3 is D,E,F etc). It spelled out for him where he could go. I then asked him if his parents were proud of him and his career choice.

  5. mary fouliard

    This JUST happened to me. I refused to give any info and kept asking for a number to call them back on (while I quickly did a search on windows service center and saw all of the warnings), they kept getting their next “supervisor”. After the third supervisor told me he couldn’t give me a number, I asked how he got this number. He said that when I bought the computer I registered it with this address and phone number. BUSTED! I bought this last year, and have moved three times since then. I told him I wasn’t giving him any information and told him to never call here again or I would hunt them down and turn them in to the police. Now I wish I had kept them going and gotten on my cell phone and called the cops, maybe they would have put a trace on the call.

  6. Bob

    I’ve gotten calls from these people (always a different caller ID) about 7 or 8 times now. They keep explaining to me that my computer is sending out Windows errors and they are from Microsoft to help.

    When I tell them I am deeply concerned that my Mac is sending them Windows errors, it’s delightful to hear them flounder around, usually falling back on the “Internet Server” thing – which, when I explain is obviously a problem with my internet provider, not my Mac, would they like the number of my provider? they really tie themselves up in pretzels.

  7. Sam

    I just got a call from caller ID us cellular 207-598-4867 saying they were windows service center saying my computer was sending them messages of unwanted malware. He wanted me to turn on my computer. His call back number is 1-952-467-6389. I hung up.

  8. Toby

    Are these people legit?

  9. roger

    they must be getting used to being told where to go, my reply to Mary this morning, of ”you are full of ‘shhh you know what’ ” was very quickly followed by same to you and she hung up I don’t mind except it is such a waste of time, I would ignore the out of area calls or withheld number calls if it wasn’t for relations overseas so I’m afraid they usually get told to go forth and multiply.

  10. Flo

    Just got a call from Ryan Harrison 214-272-0277, Name Unavailable id, represented himself as Windows Target Center. He said that my computer had been hacked several times. I said I would call him back, but he said he would call back in 10 minutes….10 minutes later another long distance number “name unavailable” id again, so probably him calling back. Didn’t answer and didn’t call, but called my Support Buddy, paid for service, to speak to a technician and let them check my computer for any problems. They did and no hacking was detected. I hate these scams and wish someone would shut them down. Thanks for writing this article. Very entertaining and informative.

  11. renee

    well i just got my phone call from Adam. call came in from 205-280-0212. Isn’t that Alabama? He had a thick mid eastern accent. I just kept putting him off and told him to call me back because i knew I needed to look this up. It sounded like a scam from the minute I picked up the phone. Thank God I googled this mess before giving them any information. Where do they get all the Microsoft licensing information? I asked him why he was getting the error messages instead of me and he gave me some bs about it running in the background. folks are a trip. Scary part is he knew my name, phone number and address!
    Well if anyone gets a call of this nature just ignore it, Keep the caller on long enough to record the phone number and try to get a name…eventhough it will probably be fake. My next step is to report it to the authorities and see where they take it.

  12. Julia

    I have been receiving these calls for months now. I actually took the time today, to speak to the guy. I was curious as to how he KNEW my computer was having issues. He claims that he works for Windows Service Center and as you stated, they monitor computers through Microsoft, and mine was “sending errors.” I immediately asked how much this service would cost, as I Googled “Windows Service Center” and found another victim who stated they were ripped off $80. The man could not give me a price, as it would depend on the issue/problem, that they would have to diagnose before they could quote a price.

    I then proceeded to ask, “why can’t you give me a price if you already know what the problem is, isn’t this why you’re calling, because you know my computer has a problem?” He rambled on with some excuse, as I came across this page. Needless to say, I didn’t proceed, but I have asked them numerous times to stop calling, yet they prevail!

  13. Tom

    Just got on of these calls. You could hear all the cross talk in the back ground, all heavily accented as was the caller. He started his spiel about my computer sending him messages. I simply told him he was full of @@@@ and hug up. I worked in the industry for 40 years and knew this was a scam from the minute I answered the phone. There was no caller ID at all.

  14. April

    I have just received the 2nd call this week. I have been working with Microsoft Windows/Office support for 2 days this week due to corrupted files programs failing.

    They started off stating that they are from support and that I am downloading corrupted files to my computer. They want me at the computer…instructed me to hit ctrl key…then asked me what was next to it..I told him to tell me. Then I told him I had a call on the other line and that I need this number to call him back at support after I take the call/.

    He provided me 952-467-6389 and then 952-467-6390. I googled it and came across your blog!!

    Thank goodness!!

  15. C

    Glad I found this – just got a call from the people whose call back # is 214-272-0277. Told me the same – computer was sending malware messages or something. Didn’t trust it, hung up and called our IT dept. They checked my computer, nothing found, said 99% of calls from Microsoft or some kind of service center are scams. Then found this. Thanks!

  16. George

    Just got a call from 213 839-6802. Some guy who sounded Arab told me he was with Windows Service Center and my lap top was sending out error messages and directed me to a message center full of error messages. He then directed me to a web site where I was about to install software that would allow him to take control of my computer. Thank God a scam alert popped up, I told him I would call him back after I did a little research on Windows Service Center. Didn’t take long to find it was a scam, he’s been trying to call me back all morning. Don’t fall for this scam!

  17. Rich Abplanalp

    I usually don’t get these kind of calls. This was my first just a bit ago. I didn’t stay on the hook for very long to find out what company it was. Scammers anger me. So I gave him a colorful good-bye.

  18. Linda Wilson

    Well my situation is a little different. I received a call from Arrick Jones technical head of Windowsservice center. They claim they owe me money and are wanting to credit it to my Credit Card. The card number is no longer available and wants me to give him a new CC number. I have checked with Fraud at Capital One and they said this has to be a fraud and not to give them any information. Sure could use the $199. but not any problems that will follow so if they do owe me then they win by keeping the money and I will lose true but problems avoided.

  19. Don

    I just received a call and got pretty much the same story as reported above. The number that showed up on my phone was 800-266-2266. When he told me about the messages that were being sent out from my personal computer, I asked him: which one? I have three. If he calls again I simply tell him I retired them all and bought a MAC–or something just to get him off my back.

  20. Ashley

    Just received a phone call from “Sam” (someone from India?) from the number 214-272-0277. He said our company computer is in danger and something about a virus. I could barely understand him. I told him we were not interested and hung up. He immediately called me back yelling at me saying “why did you hang up on me!” He became nasty and I hung up on him again. I googled the telephone # and saw it was a scam. Jerks!

  21. Dave Bates

    I’ve had at least ten of these calls over the past month or so. All of them were similar to those mentioned by the others here – they are “Mary” or “Bob” or whatever (always in an Indian or Pakistani accent), they’ve been receiving error messages from my computer…and that’s about as far as they get. Fortunately for me, I had read about this scam before the first call came in so I was aware of the game. Today I actually told “Mary” that the thing was a scam and that they were only interested in hacking into my passwords. Her reply was that if she wanted to do that, she wouldn’t need to contact me beforehand. I then indicated that I was notifying the police and not to call me again. As I am certain they are not based in the US, those threats are useless.
    What I wish someone would do is invent some sort of reverse virus that we could send to these assholes that would totally shut them down. If I had that kind of knowledge, I’d do it myself. Since these people are obviously too stupid or lazy to get real jobs, I have no problem giving them no end of grief.

  22. Richard

    Thanks, got one of these calls. Got suspicious when he said that it was Microsoft calling to try to help me. Got more suspicious when he was trying to get me to install software to give him control of the computer. I asked for a call back number – and he gave me 952-467-6389 – and googling the number brought me to your page!

  23. Nate

    I’ve had calls from these people continuously, and no matter what i say, they keep trying to lure me in with the same line. It sounds like a Hindu call center in the background but the area code of the phone call is about 10 miles away. I’ve tried everything to dis-sway the caller from calling back, on one phone call recently we cursed each other out before we hung up (it always sounded like the same guy). I thought that this would be the end of it. But lo and behold, this time a female contacted me with the same story. I can’t get any relief.

  24. Kim

    I got the call from Ryan today. The phone number he called me from was 64444214. He gave me the call back number of 214-272-0277. I was an idiot. I told him I was not comfortable giving anyone access to my computer or running the commands he was telling me, but he kept saying he was from Windows trying to help me. They had access to my computer at that point and I got on my iPad and looked up scams on the Microsoft website, so I disconnected my laptop and took out the battery and hung up. He called back. I told him I had read about a scam that was similar to what he was saying and I was not going to proceed without confirming he was with Microsoft. This was when he gave me his name and that phone number. When I typed the phone number into a search, I found this article. Hoping they did not have time to do too much damage. Running Defender now to check while typing this on my iPad. Next…. Calling local authorities!

  25. MOW

    I just got that call too. Same thing you could hear all the cross talk in the back ground and all with their heavy foreign accents. And being called “madam” I felt like a hooker. With me the story was someone was trying to hack into my computer. I couldn’t hear him, I would call him back, I got his phone number: 206 456 1859. Then I told him to F@@@ Off, Go To H@@@, I wasnt going to give him any of my information and hug up. He called me back 5 more times telling me to F@@@ Off and go to H@@@. Yes, at first there was no caller ID and no Phone number on the phone system. But after waiting and calling the Jack A@@ back at 206 456 1859 with that first call the same back ground noise was heard. Then he must of answered and put the call on mute. SCAM SCAM SCAM After he was hot headed and called me back 4 of the 6 times the ID that showed was 442030264051 if that means anything. Thanks for explaining this.

  26. Pixie921

    Just received the call and told them I have an Apple computer. He then asked me if I had big b@@bs because he want to f@@@ me! I was taken aback and did not say anything, so he asked me if I was considering his offer!!!! I hung up the phone. No ID shown

  27. Jake

    My wife was called by one of these idiots today and she could tell from the start it was a scam. She gave me the phone and told me to have fun. They told me that my computer was shooting them error messages all day. I sounded all excited and asked “Are you for reals???” The scammer was Hindu and didn’t know what I meant and reiterated that he was in fact real and from Microsoft and I need to be worried because my Windows 8 computer was sending error messages all day. I told him that is a seriously huge problem since I run Mac OS X on my computer. He then told me to go to hell and I asked him if that was not where he was going with the lies and scams he is selling and then he started screaming. I love making telemarketers and scam artists lose it. I’m already thinking of how I’m going to have fun with them next time they call :)

  28. Shannon

    Just got a call now. I love messing with these people who think they’re dealing with idiots! He kept telling me to hit the Start and Control key at the same time so he could see what was wrong with my computer. I played for a while, then used some not so polite words to get him off the phone.

  29. Sharon

    This is about the forth call I have received from MS service center telling me that my computer sending them errors that are very dangerous to my computer and he wanted me to go to my computer with him on the line so he could ‘fix’ the problems. Told him I wasn’t near my computer and that I believed it to be a scam and was gong to report it. He kept telling me, ‘maam this is not a scam’ in is very heavy India accent. I hung up on him but it is now coming through as ‘unavailable’ on my cell.

  30. Sandy Beach

    Answered the phone after several calls over the last few weeks from 214-272-0277 at 8:00 AM ON A SATURDAY!
    Could barely understand her. Asked for the company name and had to have her spell it and STILL had difficulty understanding her, I think she said techyankee. Anyway I played along for a while then made up an excuse and hung up. Will be contacting the state attorney generals office Monday .

  31. animallover

    I just got one of these again and decided to have some fun. I told him I was working and asked him to hold; he did that for 10 minutes. he later called back and I told him I had several computers, he went through the usual crap and start button, I acted like a dingbat with the start button, couldn’t find windows button it didn’t say windows, then that my keyboard was stuck since my kid spilled syrup on it and could he help me with that while I was yelling at non existent kids and husband and finally I couldn’t stop laughing so hard I pretended I was hysterical from bad day and I had to hang up. I hope he calls back so I can have more fun. what a way to entertain myself.

  32. CYNTHIA

    Could barely understand her. Asked for the company name and had to have her spell it and STILL had difficulty understanding her, I think she said techyankee. Anyway I played along for a while then made up an excuse and hung up. Will be contacting the state attorney generals office Monday .

    UK NO-01212860666

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