Microsoft Help Desk Scam
In addition to call centres that provide debatably useful services, there are also call centres built and designed with the express purpose of scamming people. And I’m not referring to those set up or outsourced by your telecommunication company.
A call centre in India is calling up people claiming to be Microsoft Help Desk. The agent goes on to describe that the person’s computer has sent them a message and that it is downloading a large amount of harmful files. Something must be done immediately to protect the integrity of their system. The agent depends on the gullibility of their victim. Unfortunately, when they called me, there was no shortage of gullibility. And my laptop was running painfully slowly.
First, the agent had me open the start menu, and type in “eventwvr.exe” to open the Windows Event Viewer. Sure enough, it reported thousands of errors and warnings.
Next, the agent wanted me to give him remote access to the system so he could install some free antivirus software. He wanted me to download remote desktop sharing software from this site.
Hindsight is 20:20. After the incident, I researched it and was horrified to learn that is was a scam. But it is good to see that there are people out there who do not believe everything they hear. They are even able to confound the agent through the use of sheer common sense
Agent: Okay, now I need you to open Internet Explorer.
Genius: I don’t have Internet Explorer. I have an Apple!
Agent: Okay, then click on the Windows Button.
Genius: There is no Windows Button. I have an Apple!
After the agent droned on about the evils of viruses, hackers, ghosts and global warming, then came the sales pitch. Just like Marin finding Nemo, and Enrique Iglesias outing himself, the sales pitch was inevitable. What he was trying to sell wasn’t fake antivirus software (or scareware). It turned out to be a maintenance plan. Now I may be gullible, but I am also extremely cheap. But as tight-fisted as I am, he was equally as determined to make a sale.
First, he introduced the 5-year maintenance plan, which I shot down. Then came the 3-year plan, which I declined. Then the 1-year plan, and finally the 6-month plan. In retrospect, I probably should have hung up. I’m not sure if it’s because of my time working at a call centre, or my own stupidity, but it felt rude to just hang up. So I rode out the call, longing for it to end, much the same way I sat through the movie ‘2012’. Not sure which was a bigger disaster though: the call, or ‘2012’.
It was a long call, and it did disturb me, but at least I didn’t hand over any banking information. Plus, the time I had him on the line, he was unable to scam anyone else. One good thing to come from the whole ordeal.