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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.


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

  1. Derrick

    i agree with you Scott. they’re pretty funny. they tell you a lot of things, make you believe them like you’re some kind of an illiterate. a total waste of time! if you go over the reports posted at http://www.callercenter.com, you’d find a lot more funny stories on how these fraudsters got busted over the phone!

  2. me

    i just had a phone call from the same place it sounded exactly like yours.
    they call almost everyday, i loved what you did so simple.. but i don’t normally have that kinda time, i have don’t all sorts of things when speaking to them, told the i didn’t speak English ( in plain English)
    told them i would turn on my computer and left the phone there and they eventually hung up,
    today i was so angry i just blew into the speaker…
    next time they call ill do what you did, and find out what website they belong to and report it
    thanks, and your exprience made me laugh!

  3. William

    Oh boy, just got off the phone with these guys, but I had a totally different experience. When I said that he was talking to an IT Pro he proceeded to call me a liar and I called him on the scam and then he got colorful. I hung up on him and sure enough he calls me back. I was able to put a trace, but the number on the phone was private. He called me 5 times, on one,the number +190 500 009 8315 came up on my caller ID. When I did answer and speak he was full of colorful language. Needless to say I didn’t fall for this…I knew it was a scam from the minute he said Microsoft and YouTube.

  4. Katherine

    They left me their number. I told them that I would have to have my husband call them back as it was his computer and I didn’t have the authority to download anything on to it. I tried calling their number back, and got through to a second fellow with an Indian accent who answered with “hello?”. I asked if it was the Windows Service Centre, and he replied with yes.

    201-338-6142. Feel free to call them.

  5. Tony

    AMMYY is a legit company. I have used it for several vendors to remote access some of our software.

  6. Christine

    This sort of scam will only continue, laughing…. but many will buy into it without knowing the truth.

  7. Lynne

    Just got this call! Indian accent & all! When I asked questions, he got huffy & then hung up!
    Beware!

  8. Andrea

    I just got a call from Windows. It was a lady this time and there was heaps of laughing in the background before she started speaking. I immediately said I do not discuss my computer over the phone, to which she replied, “Can we come to your home then?” The Nerve! Needless to say, I hung up in her.

  9. shirley

    Theese people keep calling me…. they don’t listen to me when I tell them I’m not intressted. I have tried being polite, rude,obnoxious and down right mean!!!
    they have been harassing me for almost a year now. How do I get them to stop calling Me? I’m getting very frustrated with them!!!

  10. Jody

    I had the call yesterday from them and I fell for it and actually gave them access to my computer and there they were scrolling around on my computer right to my IP address, needless to say this has caused me alot of grief and I don’t think it’s a laughing matter. These people are not doing this for fun, they are out to steal people’s identity and money. I reported it to the local TV station and police so more people won’t fall prey like I did.

  11. Ritesh

    Hey I too got the same call from a man named peter joseph and his contact number is 8057441956 from windows service center and his boss name is robert james and he has licence to access anyone’s computer and his license number is rjc65056 and he is from california.

  12. Ritesh

    But This is a scam and fraud…Guys be very careful…tell you children also about this.

  13. CT_Yankee

    Been getting the same calls. Knew they were bogus from the start, but have been having fun with them every time. Today I asked for their number so I could call them back – 213-457-3771. They answered with just “Hello” – not very business-like or professional – the first 2 time the person on the other end could not hear me. Then the “supervisor” called me back – Brett. I strongly suggested they remove my number from their list or I would be reporting this to the police.

    We will see how effective this is. Probably no more so than it has been with “This is Rachael from Credit Card Services …”

  14. Bernie

    Same Scam. Indian, from the Windows Service Center, receiving error messages from my computer. asked me to turn on computer, follow sequence of key strokes. I pretended to do as requested, while continuing to work on a history paper.

    caller ID – COMPUTER HELP 402.872.9195 – asked where he was calling from – “Boston”. possibly Boston, Nebraska :>)
    I warned rest of family… be aware.

  15. Simon

    Just got the same thing – too bad – she sounded honest – and, frankly, because she had an accent I wanted to trust her – but it was clearly a scam – and the windows service center should be ashamed of themselves. I know some senior citizen is getting ripped off by them right now – capital punishment for them – !

  16. liz

    I just got scamed for 1500.00 this week from the windows service center. I went to the bank and got my money befor they did. I always asked myself how could this happen, but now i can understand they were so good.

  17. Ross Dunn

    I am so sorry to hear that Liz, I hope others managed to see this article before the scam got them.

  18. Herb

    Just got off the phone with these A**holes. I knew it was a scam, but asked questions until foreign accented “Jack Wilson” from the “Windows Service Center” in “Guelph Ont” got tired of answering me. My call display shows 510-943-3040, and he gave me No of 1-800-346-7766. The fact that they can continue to do this with apparent impunity really disturbs me. Everyone in the legitimate business of providing these people with access owe all of us some major coordinated action to shut them down. Mark me down as a willing court witness. We all pay our service providers a pile of money and they could use some of it to clean this up.

  19. Ross Dunn

    Amen Herb! It is incredibly incompetent of our government to allow this to continue unabated.

  20. joe shmoe

    I talked to one of these guys……went through the process of gaining access to a computer, but ended the conversation when money was asked for to fix errors. Got another call a few weeks later and got extremely angry with the guy this time and could not beleive the words the came out of the Indian guys mouth…..he said he would violate my daughter and mother….I called him every swear word in the book and he just kept shooting the same evil verbage back. I also said I would report him to the FBI and he just laughed and continued spewing hate. Whatever country they’re from, these guys are scum at the lowest level.

  21. Henrik

    Wow, thank you. I got a call but had an apointment so i told him to call me back later Cause I thought it would help, thanks to you i know now what to Do. Nice xD

  22. Bakita

    I just heard from them in Ohio. I talked to them for the longest time. The english was very broken. I apologized that their accent was very heavy and asked for another person. The supervisor came. The whole time, they tried to get me to RUN a program that would give them remote access. I pulled up a YouTube video while talking to them and watched how they do it. So I kept telling them that it “looks like my security system warns against it. I see an alert saying running this program could allow a 3rd party remote access.” The supervisor kept telling me he would connect me to their technician. Yet he didn’t. I asked what the technician’s name is. after a long pause… ‘MARK HAMMIL’ ha! No lie. I asked if they could please connect me to Mark Hammil before I click on the okay button. The guys said yes, but after I clicked okay and got to the place i was supposed to be. mark hammil is very busy and he cannot take my call until the supervisor shows me what to do. He insisted my computer virus problems were serious and my Microsoft software is sending out things that are very bad. Really? So my computer is causing a virus for other people? yep. I kept asking to speak with Mark Hammil. Nope. The supervisor started yelling at me saying that he would not allow me to speak to Mark Hammil until i pressed OKAY. Went around and round for 5 more minutes. He threatened to hang up the phone and I would never speak to Mark Hammil ever, if I didn’t press OKAY. I was tickled pink by his threat. He was angry and after the 3rd time he threatened to hang up… he did. I told him to have Mark Hammil call me back. LOL.

  23. Ross Dunn

    Oh hell that was beautiful! Nice work Bakita!! Loved it :-)

  24. Simon Weiner

    The best way to shut them down is to get the word out to a wider group of readers – perhaps to Red Tape at nbcnews.com etc – it is just such a sham –
    Simon

  25. amnon Igra

    Received the same phone call/scam– Indian accent on the other end of the line. Windows service center. “where are you located, India?” “No, Brooklyn, NY”. No caller id . “Anonymous”. But then he gave me a phone number–… Very sincere sounding. etc..

    Appreciate seeing all the comments above.

  26. Simon Weiner

    Amnon – glad you didn’t fall for it – Shabbat Shalom!

  27. Daniel

    Ammyy have since put up warnings around their front page, warning people of the scams that are happening and telling them not to install it if anyone they don’t know personally asks them to. I guess that’s all they can do to protect their reputation. The scammers will probably just switch to the next tool, or host a copy themselves, though.

  28. Patrick

    Just got this call, on a saturday morning, 08:50am.

    “This is Microsoft service center. Your ordinator (computer: funny… ordinateur is the french word for it and I live in a french speaking area!) is under threat from a virus. Let us help you with this! What is the version of your Windows software?”

    “I am running Ubuntu Linux 12.04…”

    Click.

  29. angela

    I just got a call I know microsoft is not so nice to give free service call, that crazy. When she could not tell me which windows system sent the error I know it was a scam. the number that called me was from Auburn, WA 253-802-03308

  30. Jef

    Got the same type of call from a Mike Willy with s strong indian accent. He wanted me to start the procedure by typing CTRL+Windows + R but I told him that if his procedure was guiding me to give him access to my computer I will never do that to anyone in the whole world. so he hanged up.

  31. Jeni

    If you want to hear something really funning they ring my mum regularly and she doesn’t have a computer so she tells them i have a fancy fridge could that be sending you error messages. If they are persistent enough and don’t understand English well the call can go on for half an hour with her babbling away about the microwave, oven and washing machine.

  32. silvester

    they were good technically, they solved all my problems of my computer without taking any money which is very good from my point of view.

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  34. jean

    I just got a call and asked for a call back number and was given 405-515-7557, I get calls from these people every couple of days and sometimes I just like to have fun with them and other times I just tell tham that they are hackers and they are not getting near my computer. They always deniy it. Once I asked to speak to someone in the USA and the guy said he was in Dallas Texas, however the number was clearly a Canadian area code, how dumb do they think we are?

  35. Vivian

    I just got a call today from the so called Microsoft Service Center saying my computer somehow notified them and I would lose my computer if I didn’t go to fastsupport.com and enter my name and a support key provided by them. This guy had an Indian accent and got very irate when I questioned his motives. He then told me that he could prove that this wasn’t a scam and that he could identify my computer. He told me to open a command prompt and type assoc and he was able to give me the numbers that displayed on the 3rd line from the bottom. He was able to read these numbers back to me ZFSendToTarget=CLSID\{888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062} and they did match my computer. However this number is the same on all computers. Don’t be fooled – hang up on these rude, overbearing, and dishonest so and so’s.

  36. Lisa

    I got two calls from this bunch today. They didn’t get any access from me, but one of them did get a whistle blown into his ear.

  37. Adrienne

    As of July 8, 2013 these jerks were still at it with the exact same lines and attitudes. I told the scammer to get lost which he did only after calling back 3 times in succession demanding I turn on my computer, “this is serious”, and he will help me.
    My caller ID read Food Bank NYC and when I dialed it, an asian accented voice answered saying “Helloooo, welcome to MoviePhone” and began shouting out a sales pitch for something in ineligible English.
    P.S. My seriously diseased computer is working just fine

  38. Dave

    Ah, unfortunately my Dad was called yesterday by these jokers. Mom called me in tears so I drove over and Dad was still talking with these jerks. I took the phone and asked where are you calling from. He initially said Pakistan then later said LA. Very telling. The number was an LA number 323-522-5366 so please feel free to call. Anyway, I disconnected the LAN cable from his computer and the guy started getting anxious and we exchanged some “colorful” language. :-) // Fortunately, Dad did not pay anything or give any credit card numbers out. Nothing on his computer to cause alarm however, we will be scrubbing it. Dad is 82 and actually very intelligent ( Bell Labs / ATT ) however, the elderly become targets by these scammers and can easily let their guard down. I had some fun with them this morning. I called the 323-522-5366 number and hung up first. Received callbacks from 416-364-1111, 416-361-1111 both of which are not valid when I called them back. Then I called again, hung up and received a call back from 661-748-0240 with ID skype user. So I could not resist. I answered. Heavy accented person, I told him my name was Ramesh Gupta and was trying to find out some information. Tried to get their web site which he said something but I could not understand all the letters he was saying. Then I asked for his address and he gave me 30 N, Los Angeles, 900012, he asked was I a client and I said no I was just getting information for the police. He hung up. :-) Call the number and turn the tables on them.

  39. jane

    same here. just received the same call and the person wanted me to type in download.download.download.ammyy.com.
    also and unlisted number. I hung up twice and he kept calling!

  40. patricia

    they just call my house window service center I told them to stop calling my house she said my computer was going to crash in two hours 8/20/13

  41. AR

    They are back! Toronto 416-364-1111. With the same song.
    Can you Please ask the news services to carry this story?

  42. ginny

    I just received a call on my house phone from “windows service center” that my computer was sending out error messages to their windows server. A guy with a strong Indian/Pakistani type accent (and a first name “Jack”- likely made up)tried to get me to type eventvwr into the windows “run” box to show me all the errors my computer had. I wouldn’t do it, said I’d need to verify via phone that they were legit….he asked if I had a cell phone, told him I did, but that I wouldn’t call on the cell phone. The number he gave me for his “windows service center” was 1-832-426-2444. Just for fun I called the number and no one answers. This guy was emphatic, and rather convincing in his delivery that there was no way he could obtain access to my pc from typing in the code he gave me…..but in this day and age you cant trust stuff like this, and since when does Microsoft call you unsolicited on your phone.

  43. Patrick

    Who told that they are scammers…they are very good and very helpful..they can not do anything wrong …..My PC is very fast now..

  44. Melissa

    Today, a “representative” from this company – Indian guy calling himself “Kenneth Jones” (at least it wasn’t Peggy) – warned me that corrupted files were being downloaded from my computer and they are receiving error alerts on their server. He told me to simultaneously hit the Windows icon on the lower left of my keyboard along with the letter R. I didn’t but pretended like I did. Then he told me to enter “eventvwr” and click OK. I wanted to continue listening to his scam but when he asked me what was on my screen, I told him I want his number and I don’t feel comfortable with that. He gave me the number (832-426-2444) and his (phony)name and I hung up.

    With all the scams, and warnings, available just about everywhere, I wish folks would not even entertain such calls. And we need to be warning our elderly loved ones of such scams. Never, ever, ever give out personal information, credit card information, bank information, etc. to ANYONE on the phone. Never.

  45. shutthefckup donny

    got that same call from them today. I asked some basic questions like “who pays you?” they told me Microsoft. told him i wanted to call him back. he refused saying the system would not be able to retrieve my history if i called them…and that he’d call back. Had an answer for most skeptical questions…but obviously a scam.

    broken english, indian accent, huge echo…but they were “calling from LA”….very determined guys….and indians are usually straight up….sad that they’re so crooked in this case.

  46. Jannie

    Good day Thanks for the info, but i was taken for a dope yesterday and this morning i wanted to contact the scammers but no luck…yes i’m a lot poorer pensioner in South Africa. Is there anybody for hire out there who can take them out legally or…..! I feel like a huge D*** for listening to that lady and she was sooo sincere…Yes be careful they are really bad news. SOMEBODY PLS DO SOMETHING TO THOSE F****.
    Hope this helps me feel better…

  47. Pam

    This is the second time a man with an Indian accent, called from Windows Service Central saying he was receiving error reports from my computer. I said I didn’t own the computer but would take a message this time and call back. The name he gave was Steve ? Broad , 1 800 805 -0762. And insisted I call back soon or would lose windows.
    Checked Windows site and they say they do not make unsolicited phone calls.

  48. sue

    They even found an island in the English Channel, Indian speaker from Brooklyn who did actually give a Brooklyn number 347-117-4315 which is not registered to Windows Service Center…what a surprise. He spoke for sometime about Windows but did not seem to understand that being 100% Mac in our home etc it was a trifle irrelevant. Seemed to have a script from which he was unable, unprepared or simply incapable of deviating from…sad individual but I guess some folk pay him money.

  49. Marcie

    Got this call twice today. Comes up as a unknown number. I knew right away it was a scam. This just proved it. Be careful.

  50. John

    Just got the call and never before got one.
    Justin purchased a dell w/ windows8 installed.
    Caller said they were Windows Security and that I have a strong risk of something or another.
    Wanted me to hit control and windows key.
    Gave me a call back of877-502-3467
    What tipped me is he was asking for my wife using her maiden name.
    He couldn’t give me my name or any of my windows security info.
    That was enough- he said he would lock me out of my computed if I didn’t call him back.
    I haven’t started it back up since….2 hrs ago- using my iPad ton write this.
    Will go on once I talk to MS/ Windows real people
    Good luck out there folks

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