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Old 10-12-2014, 09:04 PM   #1
Got gandkids?
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1973 27' Overlander
'Possum Holler , Georgia
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Nasty Internet SCAM

So here we go. Why am I posting this here on an Airstream Forum? Because we have many members here that are older folks (like Susan and me). Many of them may not be all that internet savvy. I work in the technology world, unlike many of similar age. The usual caveats apply, no offense to the Elvis Generation who are hip to the Geek jive. This particular scam has been around for a couple years, but is particularly nasty and worth repeating for the uninitiated.

My sainted mother got a phone call yesterday afternoon from a heavily accented man breathlessly exclaiming that her computer was infected with a really bad virus. The call usually goes something like this. “I'm from Microsoft (or sometimes Apple) and we have detected a serious problem with your computer and if you'll allow me to remotely log in to your PC, I'll clean it up for you.” The caller then skillfully steps the “mark” thru the steps to allow remote access. Of course this is never good.

Well, you know what happens next. Once the caller gets access to the computer he loads bad, REALLY BAD, things onto Mom's PC. Sometimes, depending on the caller, they simply encrypt the hard drive and then ask for a set amount of money to “fix the problem” (after all, it's just a bug/spyware/mechanical issue, yada, yada, but the PC may die/be compromised to 'bad people' if not fixed right away). Usually, there's a time deadline (24, 48 hours, blah, blah). Sometimes they take over the computer completely. At that point, since they then “own” the computer, they can do anything with it, right? Can you say “kiddy porn server”, sure you can. Wanna go to Federal Prison? Get caught with that crap on a device in your kitchen.

There are many variations to this scam. The bad guys are after whatever they can grab. Bank account info, email addresses & login info (ever wonder where Spam comes from?), mutual fund login info, retirement account numbers, the list is endless. Or maybe just the $129.95, billed to your Amex to “clean the mess up”. Right.

What's worse is that many of these calls come from legitimate call centers IN THE THIRD WORLD that help you pay your electric bill, help you set up your new cable modem, or arrange your seat on the next plane to London. The callers (and yes, their companies) moonlight as scammers for a couple of hours after their normal shift is over. And in case you're thinking that ol' Jim is now screeching about the third world, look it up for yourself. All truth, not hyperbole.

OK, so know this. Bottom line. Microsoft (or Apple, or the Gub'ment) is NEVER going to call you and say that “we've noticed a problem with your computer (or cell phone, iPad, iPod, tablet, whatever dude).” NOT going to happen. Hang up the phone and go find your 12 year old grandson/daughter and have them take a look at the device in question if you think there might actually be an issue (NOT likely). No kidding, my 3 year old granddaughter showed me how to perform a certain task on the iPhone a couple weeks ago. I was stunned, and I consider myself a pretty good geek.

Second bottom line.......if you don't NEED a computer based on any Microsoft operating system, consider getting something else. Apple systems are almost bullet proof. Google Chrome devices are the same. Very few viruses/malware/whatever on them. Oh and don't think this a screed about Microsoft. I'm typing this on an ancient XP machine (Geeks will get the joke there) and we have a mix of Windows and Apple OS in our house. NEVER allow anybody access to your computer based on a phone call unless you initiated the call to a properly known service provider (like the company you bought that computer from).

Mom never does any kind of banking on her PC, never orders anything from Amazon or any other “money thing” on the computer, so in that sense we got lucky THIS TIME. My sister and I just have to reformat the hard drive and reload the operating system to make the computer usable again. Which in and of itself is a big enough PITA, translation: Paineth in the Arse. Apologies to the Chaucer scholars and those that study middle English (sorry, couldn't resist).

Just for the record. Sis and I are going to get Mom a non-PC device in the next couple weeks. Less complication = good.

My 2 cents, YMMV.



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Old 10-12-2014, 10:06 PM   #2
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Thanks for the warning. I had that call a couple of three times a week or so ago. Caller identified himself as being from Microsoft and gave me that very line about how they'd noticed a problem on my computer.

Dead give away since we have two Macs here and nothing Microsoft at all. I told him to bug off or I'd file a no-call list violation on him.

Glad you've posted a warning, and sorry it happened to your Mom.

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Old 10-12-2014, 10:27 PM   #3
Got gandkids?
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1973 27' Overlander
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Good on ya, Mimi. That no call list thing won't work on these creeps. They're calling from outside the United States. Funny how the politicians make stuff work, isn't it? (which is not meant to make this a political discussion).

Just beware. If you don't know the guy on the other end of the line, just hang up. We're kinda programmed in our generation to be polite with folks, even on the phone. Most of the calls we get on our land line these days are sales calls or, since it's election time in a few weeks, negative political ads from one person or the other. I usually just hang up.

Sad isn't it? Something as simple of the telephone has turned into a nuisance.


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Old 10-13-2014, 04:50 AM   #4
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Been getting those calls recently too. Fortunately I am a bit of a geek too, My wife handed the phone to me and I read the guy the riot act. Haven't heard back from them either.

FWIW my favorite 'puter that just died was a Compaq Presario XL-1200 that was running Linux. Mother board crapped out and I can't find any more.

We run a mix of Apple, Windoze, and Linux with a few hybrids in the mix. I have a buddy that does stuff for the gummit (not NSA) and he gets me over the hump on the hard stuff. My brother works in the IT field and commented that NSA would have a helluva time getting into my stuff.

I do agree scammers are out there and are looking to burn you every chance you get. Keep your anti-virus software up to date and watch where you go.

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Old 10-13-2014, 05:21 AM   #5
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Apple only, always.

My house phone goes to the answering machine on the second ring.

If it is someone legit, once they start speaking I pick up. Robo-calls disconnect once the machine answers....most of them, not ones from politicians.

No charges for caller-id, and it bypasses the frustration of having to answer the phone, listen to the spiel and tell them to take a hike.

Used to be so, it is not.

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Old 10-13-2014, 06:34 AM   #6
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Yep, I've gotten 3 calls from these guys. First thing out of my mouth is I have no PC's in my household. (I have Mac's). Stops them dead in their tracks right there.

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Old 10-13-2014, 06:39 AM   #7
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Had that call myself. Guy told me I had a problem with my computer. I told him"No I don't" and hung up on him.
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Old 10-13-2014, 06:54 AM   #8
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I know the no-call list doesn't work with these guys--or the domestic ones either for that matter--but it makes such a lovely threat. "You are breaking the law by calling this number!"
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:41 AM   #9
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When I get scam calls I screw with them. I tell them that I am Buddist and start quoting the Budda. Totally throws them off their script. I do the same with Pentacostals and little old church ladies when they knock on my door.
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Old 10-13-2014, 09:30 AM   #10
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I once had a Labrador mix dog that I allowed to chase Jehovah's Witnesses down the walkway until they were off my property. It was great fun to watch, high stepping people in nice clothes leaving in a cloud of loose Watchtowers. He wouldn't hurt them, he just barked and swelled up and looked ferocious. Finally they started skipping our house on their rounds. Worked out well.

In later years, after the dog was long gone, I had a little Lord Satan worshipping routine that played well with the religous fanatics. It involved inviting them into the basement and asking if anyone else knew they were there or were they alone. Along with the rest of it, they usually left pretty quick.

Guess I couldn't get away with that today. Most fun I've had recently was when my son gave my name and number to Miracle Ear. They kept calling me and I kept answering with a "WHAT??" and "Who's there? Anyone on the phone?" And they thought they really had a live one and kept just trying to talk louder and to get me to hand the phone to someone else.
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Old 10-13-2014, 09:50 AM   #11
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Just hang up immediately on all calls you don't want to listen to. Don't be polite, don't say anything at all, just click off. It disconnects the robo calls an is the easiest way to deal with any other ones be they political, scam or anything else. It is your phone and you are paying for it, you don't need to listen or be nice when a call comes in.
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Old 10-13-2014, 10:11 AM   #12
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Lately I have had more problems from real problems like lightening. It took out my cable modem and one of my computers. The stuff that was on UPS power supplies came out fine. The modem got a jolt from the cable coming in.

Any phone call or web page that says you have a virus is bogus. A good Anti-Malware program is MalwareBytes and it is free. If you are not a computer geek them apple is probably not a bad idea but I am a PC man. All the computers in my house (PC's) have probably cost me less than one apple.

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Old 10-13-2014, 10:29 AM   #13
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I have a slightly different tack. I say, "I'll hear your spiel, but you have to agree to my conditions. First I need the name of your registered agent in Virginia to send my invoice to. This is my business phone and as a CPA I bill at $250 an hour with a two hour minimum. If you don't agree, take my name off your list, because by law you've heard my requirements and if your company calls again I will bill you $500."
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Old 10-13-2014, 01:22 PM   #14
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lubbock , Texas
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I got this call a few weeks ago ... He went thru his pitch and tells me how to log onto their system ... I let him go thru all the details about what to do, while all along acting like I m logging onto the remote system. Get to the end he sez what is on your screen? I sez what do you mean? He sez your screen should show such & such ... I sez well all that's on my screen is a picture of Bugs Bunny ... He sez whaaaat? I repeat: that's right -Bugs Bunny ... He ends up saying: (heavy middle eastern accent) You are lying to me sir! I say whaaaat? No really! It's a picture of Buggzy hisself! He repeats : you are lying to me sir!!!! Then he hangs up on me .

Oh well ... Funs gotta end sometime.

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