Sunday, October 7, 2012

telephone scammers

Ars Technica has a very interesting article about the scammers that operate via phone, persuading you to give them access of your computer under the pretense of viruses and other malware.

"This scam itself is a few years old now, but I had not personally received one of the calls until yesterday—[...] And here were the scammers on the other end of the line, in what could only be a cosmic coincidence.

I walked around my office with the phone against my ear, then settled into my desk chair and put the call on speakerphone. I wanted to know just what it felt like to be on the receiving end of such a call. I wanted to know how a group of scammers half a world away convinced random and often tech-illiterate people to do things like run the built-in Windows Event Viewer, then connect to a website, download software, and install it (together, no easy feat for many mainstream users). I wanted to know just how the scammers eventually convinced their marks to open up remote control of their PCs to strangers who had just called them on the telephone.

So I played along—which was difficult without a Windows PC in my office. To buy time, I told the scammer that I was waiting for my nonexistent computer to "boot up," then sent a furious blast of instant messages to Brodkin, asking him to do whatever the scammer told me to do and report back on the results. Luckily he was at his computer and immediately agreed—and we were off."

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