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Imagine this scenario. For the past few months, your computer has been running slowly. That’s can’t be right, can it? I mean, you only bought it last year and the person in the store said it was a really good computer. He said it was future-proof. 

Out of the blue, your landline rings. A polite young man with a comfortingly familiar Indian accent is on the other end, and he says that he’s from Microsoft Technical Support. He says that your computer has a problem. A really big problem. He says that your computer has a virus. But you needn’t worry. He’s an expert, and he’s here to help.

He asks you to install something called Team Viewer, and soon enough your mouse is flying across your screen without you even touching it. You see him open up something called the ‘Event Viewer’, and sure enough you see a bunch of scary looking messages each colored in the brightest red. Each identifiable by the category ‘error’. These are caused by the virus on your computer, the nice young man said.

He can fix it for you. All he needs is your credit card number and for a fee he promises he can clear up your system and bring it back to the pristine state it was originally in. You agree, and €200 is debited from your MasterCard. The young man on the other end stays on the line for another ten minutes and installs a program you’re never heard of. He tells you what a great decision you made, and how everything is now fine. He then leaves, wishing you a pleasant day.

The Fake Tech Support Scam

It’s one of the most effective phone based scams in recent years, targeting the majority of users who own a computer for internet browsing and word processing. It is mostly run from call centers in the Indian subcontinent, and the victims can be found in places as far flung as New Zealand, Australia, The UK, Canada, and the US. Tim warned us why you you never trust a cold-calling computer technician Cold Calling Computer Technicians: Don't Fall for a Scam Like This [Scam Alert!] Cold Calling Computer Technicians: Don't Fall for a Scam Like This [Scam Alert!] You've probably heard the term "don't scam a scammer" but I've always been fond of "don't scam a tech writer" myself. I'm not saying we're infallible, but if your scam involves the Internet, a Windows... Read More . Also, be warned that fake tech support scamsters What's Fake Tech Support & Why You Shouldn't Trust Everything You See on Google What's Fake Tech Support & Why You Shouldn't Trust Everything You See on Google You’re sitting at home, minding your own business. Suddenly, the phone rings. You pick up, and it’s Microsoft (or Norton, or Dell, or …). Specifically, it’s a support engineer, and he’s concerned – concerned for... Read More could find a different way to reach you.

Recordings of these calls paint a picture of authoritative, polite people who sound like they know what they’re doing. They call you ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’. It drips with legitimacy. With that in mind, is it any wonder why people fall for them?

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What makes this scam even more tragic is that it’s not obvious if the people who make the phone calls realize they’re taking part in something that is likely considered to be a criminal activity in most Western jurisdictions. Do they genuinely believe that they’re helping people?

Make It Harder for The Scamsters

Prevention is always better than a cure, and it’s always useful to take steps against getting scammed in the first place. Whilst none of these are a guaranteed silver bullet against any ill-meaning phone calls aimed to part you from the money, they will make life harder for the scammer.

Firstly, look at obfuscating your name, address and phone number. This can be done by removing your details from third party directories, including the public (also known as edited) electoral roll in the UK, and from the phone directory.

If you’re an adult who is living in the UK, it’s almost certain that you’re on the electoral register. Did you know that the electoral register has a ‘full’ version and an edited one? The full one is used for the purposes of identifying who is eligible to vote and for companies such as Experian to check the identity of people who are applying for credit. This version of the electoral register is never sold to companies for marketing purposes.

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However, the same is not true for the ‘edited’ version of the electoral register. This is freely sold to whoever wants it, and is a great way for enterprising scammers to get a list of people to target. However, it’s very easy to remove yourself from this list. Simply send a letter in writing to your local Electoral Register Officer (ELO) and politely ask yourself to be removed from the edited register.  You’d also be well advised to pay the website of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) a visit and opt out of all unsolicited marketing calls.

It might also help to scrub your name and address from the phone directory. In the US, you can remove yourself from the White Pages by following the instructions contained here. You can also join the Do Not Call registry. It’s free and only takes a minute.

In Australia, you’d do well to join the Do Not Call registry. This can be done online, by phone or by post. Just follow the instructions on this web page. Furthermore, you can opt out of being listed in the white pages by calling up your phone provider and ask for it to be categorized as a ‘silent’ number. This will remove it from the White Pages website and from any future printed phone directories. Sadly, some phone providers charge for this service.

Whilst none of these actions guarantee that you won’t be the victim of the phone scam we mentioned earlier, it does ensure that it’s harder for people to get access to your phone number. It also provides you with some recourse with the authorities if you receive any unsolicited marketing calls after opting out.

Finally, you’d be well advised to read up on how these phone cons work. Troy Hunt is an Australian security researcher and software developer who has tirelessly researched the people, the motivations, and the methods behind the fake IT support scam. His blog is a great starting point for any research into them.

After the Scam Has Taken Place

Unfortunately, some people find themselves being taken in by these phone calls and forking out a huge amount of money, often to the tune of the hundreds of dollars. It is at this point where you start thinking about damage control.

If you granted the caller access to your computer, you should no longer consider your computer to be safe or clean. He might have installed any number of programs, changed any number of settings, or even installed a virus What To Do If Your Computer Gets Infected By A Virus What To Do If Your Computer Gets Infected By A Virus Viruses are the scourge we are all afraid of. Let's say that you followed all recommended safety tips to protect your computer and you still ended up getting infected, as you probably noticed once an... Read More . In short, you can no longer trust it. Therefore, you would be well advised to simply backup all your files and reinstall your operating system. Whilst this is tedious and irritating, it ensures that your computer is reverted to a pristine state, as it was before being compromised.

Secondly, you should deal with getting your money back. If you paid with a credit or debit card, you should contact the issuing bank and explain the situation and request a chargeback. Your success will vary based upon the jurisdiction where you live as a result of the variation in consumer protection legislation in each country. I’d also strongly encourage you to cancel your current credit or debit card and request a replacement from your bank in order to prevent any repeat purchases.

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I’d also strongly encourage you to request a copy of your credit report. Considering that the attacker was able to contact you, identify you by name, gain access to your computer and was provided with a credit card, it’s safe to say that it can only be considered prudent to keep an eye out for anyone using your identity to get credit.

In the United States, federal law allows consumers to access their credit report once every twelve months for no charge. AnnualCreditReport.com is a website jointly run by the three major credit reporting agencies in the US. By signing in, you can see a copy of your credit report (sans credit score) and can check whether your identity has been stolen.

It’s Not Your Fault

As someone who once fell victim to online fraudsters, I know first hand how utterly awful it is. You feel incredibly foolish and angry. Even though someone acted with malice against you, you can’t help but feel as though it was somehow your fault. It’s almost as if you feel culpable. And if you’ve fallen victim to a fake IT support scam, odds are pretty solid that you feel that way too.

But you shouldn’t. The reason why these scams are so effective is because they’re utterly convincing to a non-technical audience. The people at the other end of the line are polite, charming and confident. They sound like they know what they’re doing. They sound legit. It’s not your fault that you were deceived, and you shouldn’t blame yourself.

Conclusion

The fake IT support scam is a particularly pernicious con that preys upon the trusting and the less technically able. It has sucked in hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is a lucrative money spinner for those who are behind it. Still, it remains a despicable attack on undeserving people, with a very real personal cost for its victims.

Have you ever been taken in by it? Do you know anyone who has? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Image Credit: Justin Brockie, Jon Philips, 401k 2013Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

  1. Vene
    November 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    WARNING:
    Do not respond to anyone calling your phone to tell you your computer is infected and may crash if not properly "cleaned". It is a scam! This happened to me - the company name is VAP eSECURE. November 8, 2016

  2. betterwriter
    November 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    1) Your computer will have to be wiped and reinstalled. They have placed backdoor program on it. It's one of the first things they do.

    2) If you ever did banking online the password for that will have to be changed. Do this after reinstalling your OS as your machine likely now has a keylogger program on it watching everything you do in hopes of you logging into your bank or paypal.

    3) If you gave them a CC # that account will have to be closed and a new account created issued. If you haven't contact the CC company they may be willing to reverse the payment. You may have some insurance through them. Do this right away as there will be more charges to the card as soon as they sell the card info. Same if a debit card. The card credentials and account info needs to change.

    4) If you paid through paypal file a claim there and change your password and security questions.

    5) Any and all online accounts you have for facebook etcetera will need to have the passwords and security question/answers changed. Do this on another machine or after reinstalling.

    6) Get a credit report because they are going to use whatever they got from you to do more purchases.

  3. Arief Halim
    October 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    I fell for this scam recently and yes it does very awful, especially when you also fall for giving you personal name to them. You'll get a little paranoid too, since they may use it to further their crime. No matter what you heard from this fake it support, don't let them talk for long. The scammers who tricked claimed to be an Microsoft it tech support working for their IT department. There are two guys involved, one who acted as the usual tech support caller and the other one who acted as the manager. And yes they have a very heavy Indian accent, they're actually doing this scam from India.
    It's an ellaborated scam where they managed to use US phone number when they first contacted you. I didn't fell for half a thousand dollar or more, but still got tricked to pay a decent amount of money. So far I've filed a report to the FTC and Microsoft center, I may even have to file for a police report and possibly FBI Internet Crime complain center of the bank couldn't get my money back, just to share how serious this scam can be, given that you even may not able to get the money if you fell for it. Hope sharing this story will help you to avoid this type of scam which appears to be a resurgence again.

  4. Dikadi
    October 11, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    I just got the phone call, this lady knew my name, my address, my phone number and my email account. I'm freaking out here. What if they are coming to my house while my daughter and me are in???

  5. Kate
    September 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I stupidly fell for this yesterday and handed over remote access..
    I never gave any credit card details or personal info apart from Full name, Email address and Billing Address..
    They didn't ask for money until they'd been remotely on my laptop for 45 minutes..
    Then I twigged, hung up and shut my computer down..
    I'm scared about what information they were able to steal/what they were doing remotely for that 45 minutes..
    Feeling worried..

    • Mark
      September 30, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      First, if you don't already have Malwarebytes premium, install it and run a scan on your computer. It will pick up viruses and other malware and destroy them. It's a great service.

      Next, change all your passwords. Actually, do this first.

      Lastly, hire a computer expert to inspect your computer.

      Good luck, and chill out. These people usually only want to sucker you for your money.

  6. Chris
    September 9, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I fell for this last night, and feel awful. I don't know how I will handle myself and have not touched my computer since then. I don't know what to do now, and I feel so helpless and worthless.....

  7. bowen
    September 2, 2016 at 3:07 am

    My daughter-in-law feel for the scam and let them access her computer-- I really thought she knew more than that. Evidently Not! Anyway the computer started getting real slow -- so I brought it come to fix it. At first I could access some files pressing control alt delete or restarting and press the shift key. So I tried to copy some files and pass them to a USB and then the computer stopped letting me doing. Now all we see is we a blue screen asking for a password or call (844) 493-9906. So I am waiting on a MSDart disk and if that doesn't work; do not know what she will want to do. She really wanted to save all of her little girl's pictures, but I am not sure that is going to happen.

  8. Eileen
    August 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    On Thursday 18-08-2016 I was called by a person who said they were agents for Microsoft. My Computer was on at the time, and I had a problem. After doing as they told me, the caller started, he said, to put things right. I had to go out, but this person said they would carry on the next day. This is when I should have realised it was a Scam.
    I took the call the next day, and watched as the person at the other end did things. I was then offered a 4 year contract. Foolishly I agreed, and tried to pay by Credit Card. Refused twice by Visa Verification. I assumed I had inadvertently entered a wrong digit on each occasion. Contacted my Bank, and was put through to the Fraud Dept. Spoke withe a person there. After 2 Questions I was told I could pay the amount asked for.
    This amount has not, at time of writing been taken from my account, but is held by " The Merchant" until the Scam Company collects it. Apparently, the Bank cannot get this money until at least 7 days has elapsed. I have sent three emails to the company, which is
    Bluemist Technologies. Com. I was contacted in the first place from London, but now find I am dealing with a company in the USA. what can I do ?

  9. Franziska
    May 8, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Yes, I too fell for it. They were not nice, but actually quite abusive. It was pretty scary.Yes, they did get money from me too. But it looks like I am actually getting a refund as they "billed" me through a billing company. Have reinstalled all programs. Did a police report, waiting to see if I get the money back and then will follow up with the billing company. Looks like an inside job or I am more duped then I realize.
    Franziska

    • Donna
      October 7, 2016 at 7:56 am

      Please be careful. I was stupid too. Found out it was a scam. They called me and offered a refund since they were moving their company to England. They were so convincing. They wanted to send my money back by wire. They led me to a website, that said it was a company that handled their refunds. It looked legit. It looked like a Chase bank application. Well I let them into my bank account. They said it didn't work, and they would call back tomorrow. Well I realized that I had been tricked again! Went immediately to my credit union. We closed my account and moved all my info to a new account number. I came home and checked out the website that they had accessed. It is a demo that Chase Bank puts out for potential customers to try. It really doesn't do anything. So I am down $200 from the scammers, $150 from the tech I had to hire to clean my computer and the inconvenience of a new credit union account number. They still keep calling me. I have blocked several numbers. Now they are saying that their company was hacked. Of course it is the people who hacked their company who tried to get my money. They still want to give me a refund! I have finally learned an expensive lesson! Good luck.

  10. Cindy
    April 4, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I feel so stupid I fell for this scam I did let them in my computer but as soon as they asked for money I disconnected them I shut down my computer then ran a Kaspersky scan. I also ran a Malware scan as well. My cousin is very good with computers he didn't see anything downloaded as least as far as he could see. I'm a little worried that my computer is corrupt although I haven't had any problems with it.

    • Anne
      May 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Me too. I shut them down and had my IT friend run through it. I am now using AVG.

      One IT friend says I am okay to use my laptop and another says that it is possible something was written into my firmware so it is not safe. So, I am looking into whether I am looking At getting a new hard drive or not.
      Good luck.

  11. Martin
    March 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

    it just happened to me couple days ago i am sick in my stomach I feel so stupid got me with 200.00 what can i do to get it back if i can the phone number they gave me comes back a magic jack number got my email and address .. was in my computer for 3 hours ..im not very good with computers any suggestions please thanks

  12. tim
    February 15, 2016 at 5:08 am

    i fell for this stupid scam and im wondering what i sould be worried about. i gave them my credit card number my name zip code and billing adress, and now im scared of identinty theft and would love to know what to do about it

  13. DeVon
    January 25, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    The called me. I sent them a "Factory Restore Application" is a batch file as a consolation.

  14. Jim
    January 11, 2016 at 3:17 am

    I fell for this scam too, but in my case, it wasn't a phone call that started it. They locked up my computer to the point where I couldn't even shut it down. I had to call the toll-free number and give them access to get it unlocked. Now I'm scared, too.

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Your computer has a power button. Hold it down to force it to shut down.

  15. v e
    December 19, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    So I just fell for this and what I'm more worried about is them being able to log into my accounts I'm on and my email. I gave them my name and email address so would they be able to get into my email account? I didn't buy anything or give them any card info, but would they be able to access accounts that I'm still logged into on the Internet?

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Only if you typed it in when they connected, or if it was saved on your computer. Make sure you uninstall any programs you may have downloaded, as they may be key-loggers.

  16. Wonky Face
    December 11, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Are email accounts compromised? I had a family member fall for this and now they're worried bc they aren't tech savvy and neither am I?

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Only if you typed it in when they connected, of if it was saved on your computer.

  17. Rocky77340
    October 16, 2015 at 10:41 pm
  18. Muthu
    April 28, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Hi,
    Last Thursday [23-Aor02015] I have been hit by this scam. They took over the control for my system for few minutes and I force shut down the laptop before they try to do something. Now I kept my laptop without internet by disabling WiFi and Network / LAN Adpaters.

    Even though my laptop is not corrupted and I have not lost any money, I want to know if they would have copied any data from my system. Is it possible to get some logs to get this information? I am ready to format my system but I want to know if they would have copied any data from my laptop before I am formatting it.

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      I would suggest factory restore, then changing all of your passwords.

  19. Scammed
    March 26, 2015 at 2:54 am

    This happened 2me today. Microsoft support called (fake) and I downloaded team viewer and told I needed a vpn for $200-$400. I hung up but I need to reset my factory settings as I am scared.

  20. Jan F
    February 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I have just been scammed without realising it but did not give them any bank or card details. They do have my name and e-mail address as well as who I bank with and I did download what they asked me too. Feeling rather stupid now although my suspicions were aroused when they started asking for money and bank & card details. At that point I terminated the conversation. They rang several times after that but I didn't respond. I am now too worried to use my laptop until I get it looked at by an expert. Any advice?

    • Jewel Decat
      February 22, 2015 at 2:31 am

      Please get it looked at by an expert....they will probably reformat it

  21. S
    November 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    My son had the best response when we were called. He said his computer had a little picture of an apple on the cover. They responded that it did not. End of call.

  22. A. Taylor
    November 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I also received one of these calls, the Indian speaking "gentleman" stated he was from Microsoft, noticed my PC was running slow, etc. etc. I played along for a few minutes just for a joke before hanging up on him. Not for one minute did I believe that Microsoft or any other company would call me because of a slow computer. Come on people, why would Microsoft or any other company care if your computer is running slow? Why would they PAY people to call you? Think about it. I agree with dragonmouth, ultimately it is the computer owners fault.

  23. Rob H
    November 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Rule one: never let anyone have remote access to your computer, not even a support person. People have asked me to log in to their system using tools like LogMeIn.com to see if I can fix a problem, I refuse. As a former PC Support guy I know that once you've touched someone else's computer, for weeks afterwards there's a risk of calls like "Since you worked on my computer..." implying that I messed something up - their motivation being to get support for their new problem free.
    When someone else gets access there's a risk they can look at confidential documents, find personal details and passwords, they may even be connecting from a malware infected PC themselves and risk the malware spreading to your PC.
    Given that this type of scam is so prevalent you might expect that providers of remote access services like LogMeIn.com would post prominent warnings on their websites. They don't.

    Rule two. In our household if we get a call from someone with an indian accent we just put the phone down. We know nobody in India, it's always a call centre, if it's not a scam then they're trying to sell me something. It does mean that "legitimate" businesses that off-shore their call centres - like some UK banks - don't get business from me. A bit tough on indian sounding people based in UK but I'm not going to listen to 10 unwanted calls a week because once or twice a year it may be a legitimate caller.

    Rule three: In addition to the warnings about disclosing your Credit Card details, never send money using Western Union either. That's a very popular payment method of scammers, it seems the Western Union's recipient verification processes are inadequate, once they've passed the money on to the crooks, you stand zero chance of getting it back. Again you might expect Western Union to post prominent fraud risk warnings on their web site. They don't, if they did they'd lose the commission they earn from the fraudsters transactions.

    Rule four: I often read stories about how much of the scam caller's time someone has wasted. Do the maths. These guys may be on 10 dollars a day. One successful scam may earn 200 dollars (more if they tell you the charge is 200 but they actually take more and then earn more from selling the password details they've stolen while they were on your computer and more from the trojan they installed to enrol your PC in a spam-sending botnet and more from selling your contact details as a known sucker, and more from selling on your credit card details and more from harvesting sufficient personal information for you to become victim of identity theft). If they get one success a week it's cause for celebration so you wasting an hour of their time is your loss not theirs.

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I used a virtual computer and they had a fun time thinking "What, he uses windows 95?" XD

  24. rich-c
    November 1, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I have one of the oldest continuously held email addresses on the internet. Since I learned what Netscape was doing with my information (back then it was the only free browser) I have practiced safe surfing. Nevertheless my ISP tells me his spam filter sieved out 534 spams or viruses addressed to my account in the last four days alone. Spammers can and do find you.

    I also get calls from (by the accent) Pakistan trying to sell me duct cleaning - in Canada. I have had the pseudo-Microsoft call. I do have a landline phone without caller ID. I also have the pseudo-charities which may be local, ignoring my government Do Not Call listings.

    I long ago learned to be alert and follow the rules, but I still get spam and attempts to defraud. I don't know how the less experienced cope.

    • dragonmouth
      November 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Try NoMoRobo.com. It really works. I have not had any charity calls since I registered. I used to get at least one a day from Fraternal Order of Police.

  25. dragonmouth
    November 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    "The full one is used for the purposes of identifying who is eligible to vote and for companies such as Experian to check the identity of people who are applying for credit. This version of the electoral register is never sold to companies for marketing purposes."

    Sorry to rain on your parade but recently Experian in the US has been discovered to allow scammers access to its database.

    "You can also join the Do Not Call registry"
    That does not stop unsolicited calls, it only lowers their number somewhat. I have been on the US Do Not Call list since it was setup. I still got frequent calls. Each time I got a call, I requested that they do not call back, which is part of the procedure. I might as well have been talking to the wall, for all the good it did me.

    Couple of weeks ago I registered my land line number with NoMoRobo.com. They check the origin of all calls to a number registered with them and block any illegal robo calls. If you hear just one ring that means a robo call was blocked. If there are more rings, you may be 99% sure that it is a legimate phone call. Since registering with NoMoRobo.com there have been about 10 robo calls made to my number. All of them have been blocked. If a call should get through, I can file a report with NoMoRobo and add the number to their robo call database.

    One problem with DoNotCall list and NoMoRobo.com is that political calls are legal in the US and they will not be blocked. With an election coming up in a couple of days, I am expecting a lot of political calls. But then I will use my answering machine to screen calls.

    "It's not your fault."
    Ultimately, it is. Neither Microsoft nor any other software or hardware vendor will ever call you to tell you that THEY detected a problem on you computer. That should be the biggest tip off that somebody is trying to scam you. That fact was not mentioned explicitely in the article.

    You need to be aware of what is going on with your computer. Don't be a zombie just staring at your screen as you endlessly play Call of Duty or some other mind-numbing game. You supposedly run virus and malware scans regularly so the chances of infection are small. You supposedly keep your A/V and antimalware up to date. So there is no reason why somebody should call you and tell you that your PC is infected.

    One last thing - switch your O/S from Windows to Linux or BSD. Then you can laugh at the scammers when they call to tell you your Windows system is infected.

  26. ?????? ?
    November 1, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I don't understand one thing do these calls come from India only?

    • Alex
      November 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      @Matthew I did not call the local authorities but a couple of hours after this call the public was warned about this scam on the local T.V.
      Guess the authorities don't have much to go by either.
      The callers where a woman and two men (Customer support, technician and supervisor) and had a pronounced Indian accent. Spoke good English, where polite (at first) and work like a professional team.

  27. Scott H
    October 31, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Go along with it then tell them no that is all but record the call then tell them your charging them for wasting your time a guy did that and they paid up as well they never called back again but it one way of making money from them calling you and if they do not pay up you got proof they owe you money and you can sue them

  28. likefunbutnot
    October 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Every single person I've heard who has been contacted by one of these scammers has been older than 60, homeowners, been conspicuously and actively politically conservative, on the upper third of the economic ladder and was called on a land line. I have not yet encountered anyone who got one of these cold calls who did not meet all of the above criteria, so I have a half-formed theory that at least in the US, these guys are working from Republican donor lists of some sort.

    I do definitely have opinions about that but the above is not meant as any sort of commentary.

    • Matthew H
      October 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Interesting! I know that this scam is a global thing, with people in the UK, Australia and New Zealand affected. I also know that people were predominantly called on a land line.

      Perhaps your hypothesis reflects more on the demographics of who own land lines rather than the political leanings of the people targeted?

      Do you think it was possible that the donor list got leaked?

    • Tina S
      November 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Your thesis doesn't hold for affected individuals in Canada. I know one person who regularly gets these calls; she once handed such a call to me. She is definitely liberal, not part of a political organization, but was part of a union many years ago.

      I'm not sure how easy it is to get access to Republican donor lists, but as Matthew says, those scammers operate worldwide, so they definitely collect their data from more than just one source. And they would be stupid not to! Hence, the correlation you have noticed is most likely co-incidence. Maybe you don't know enough liberals who engage in activities that will have their data end up on lists acquired by scammers.

      People in the age and status group you describe are prime targets due to their potential naivety. Their financial situation just makes them more likely to spend money in general, which increases the likelihood that they left their data somewhere for scammers to be picked up, for example when booking a vacation. The person I know for example travels a lot and owns a few time shares in Mexico and the US. The dubious travel agencies that call her up all the time and try to sell her trips and more time shares sit in the US. Maybe they sold her data.

    • Shawn
      December 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      I just fell for this Indian guy from Wilmington MA the number pulls up rcn telecom and he quoted the agency as Acadia which looks like bs from Hanson, MA. Max Wilson was his name he said but didn't sound like a max. I will now reinstall my software I guess although machines he Ammy'd seemed fine. I believe somebody from Comcast is giving new numbers to RCN crook because I just got the number they called me on a month ago. I wish I hadn't

    • Anonymous
      December 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      I have had them call me twice almost fell for it the first time second time nope. I'm in Canada and contrary toyour US hypothesis I'm 18 and politics are stupid. The second time I answered and eventually hung up. They called back and I talked as if I was a directory machine and informed them of my SSA status with the cyber crime division of the FBi. Then went on to inform them the cal was monitored and wascurrently being relocated. They hung up right after.

    • Bryontrejus
      May 14, 2015 at 7:17 am

      I fell victim to this today. Just finished college finals and my friends always make fun of my for the condition of my computer sense I obviously have viruses and one in particular is a computer science major. So nearly 5 minuets after getting scolded for the viruses I get the call. I went as far as installing the software that lets him have access to my computer and then I realized how stupid I was. I vote democrat, I am 19 years old, I come from a Native American family on a reservation who just recently got out of poverty in the last 3 years, and I was called on my cellphone.... So add 1 to the list of people who don't meet your criteria.

    • DeVon
      January 25, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      I am 16, I got one. Virus sent. Game, match, Checkmate, whatever. I win.

  29. Alex
    October 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I did get a call from those fake Microsoft IT support and at first did believe them because my computer did detect a virus a few days earlier.
    So, because of that and their very smooth and professional attitude I followed their instructions and installed the AMMYY software which is a totally legitimate tool and gave access to my computer (Big mistake).
    Then they proceeded exactly as you describe in the article but when I was asked for my credit card information and other information I became suspicious and declined their help.
    When I asked for their website or some way for me to contact them I was ignored.
    The person became more and more insistent and irritated and finally hung up.
    When I returned to my PC which was connected in another room it was turned off.
    It would not boot Windows and I was unable to recover/restore the OS.
    I had to erase the drive and re-install everything. Luckily I did have all my files and software on an external drive and CD's.
    They continued calling me periodically even though I told then "NO".
    Unfortunately I can't identify them.
    Hope this can help others to avoid this scam.

    • Matthew H
      October 31, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      It's an all too common story. I'm sorry you found yourself victim to these crooks. Did you contact local law enforcement?

      • DeVon
        January 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        Virus sent. Game, match, Checkmate, whatever. I win.
        You cant contact authorities, they are in another country.

      • Malcolm Robertson
        November 6, 2016 at 5:07 am

        I have falllen for their scam and paid them money, gib=ven them my bank account numbers and they have charged me fpr much money, 249 first and bow 349, ahat should I do?

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