Windows Support Telephone Scam – “Corrupt Files” and “Many Viruses”

If you have received a call anything like this, first Off: DON’T DO ANYTHING THEY ASK.

Nutch robots
Image via Wikipedia

If you are nervous, hang up. Sometimes they stay the other end waiting, so leave the phone for 15 minutes. You can unplug your router if you are in any doubt as to whether they are conencted remotely to your machine.

Next: then go to this site: http://www.digitaltoast.co.uk/supportonclick-systemrecure-scam

This came to my attention yesterday when I was contacted by a family friend who had recieved a cold call from “Windows Technical Support” and had proceeded to claim their machine was corrupt and virus-ridden.

I’ll embellish this article a little later, but just wanted to post something initially that could show up on search engines.

In the mean time, here’s a list of things NOT to do:

  1. Don’t do anything they ask.
  2. Don’t go to any website they request you access
  3. Don’t let them access your PC remotely (you will be prompted before this happens)
  4. Don’t give them any money

You might also like to try

  1. Wasting their time by playing stupid
  2. Recording the conversation
  3. Do a Google search for key phrases they are using
  4. Report it somewhere – even if it’s just leaving comments on a web page.

Generally if you do an internet search, you will come up with tons of results confirming that THIS IS A SCAM: Here are a few more links:

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/081009-windows-event-viewer-phishing-scam.html

http://www.computerhq.co.uk/content/warning-fake-tech-support-call-scam-windows-xp-service-provider

http://www.pcproblem.co.uk/?p=49

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=1424731

UPDATE

The Guardian newspaper seem to be onto this. This commented was posted on the Digital Toast forum above on 29/06/2010:

If anyone has been caught by this scam, or knows someone who has, then I’d be grateful if you could tell me the name of the company *whose name appears on your credit card*. It’s clear this company uses loads of different sites and different names, but I suspect it’s the same one (or ones?) behind it. Email me please at charles.arthur@guardian.co.uk

Charles Arthur, editor, Technology, The Guardian

Other Articles

This is one of an ongoing series of articles that I have written following this scam. You can find them under the following tag group:

http://www.jameswiseman.com/blog/tag/windows-support-telephone-scam/

216 thoughts on “Windows Support Telephone Scam – “Corrupt Files” and “Many Viruses”

  1. PLEASE READ IT’s VERY IMPORTANT!!! BIG SCAM and POSSIBLE VIRUS ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I received a call today from a man claiming to be from some company called One Stop something. Couldn’t hardly understand him, but he said that there has been reports that computer owners in Michigan are having major issues with their computers. He said that I need to follow his directions and go through the steps that he was going to tell me, so that it would fix the problem in the hard drive. He said my hard drive is possibly corrupted. I kept telling him that I’m not the home owner or the owner of the pc. He still kept saying that our computer is possibly corrupted. I told him their is no way, because we don’t do a lot of downloading and I have lot’s of protection on our computer. He still went on with an angry voice, he was get mad at me. He said, 1. Look at the lower left end of your keyboard, find the “Windows” key, looks like a colorful window.
    2. Hold that key down and press the “r” key 3 times.
    3. Tell me what you see on your screen. I finally said I will not do this!! Please tell me your name again? He said his name which I couldn’t understand. Then kept saying the name of the company and that they clean up what microsoft put’s on people’s pc’s. I told him to hold on a sec, cuz I have another call. It was my mother and I told her about the call and she said it’s a big SCAM!! I told my mom to hold on I have another call went back to it and it was the same guy again. He is now yelling at me saying, “Is this how you treat other people from different countries? “Why you people in the United States treat us bad?” Then I kept going on and telling him that I was looking his company up and that I know this is a scam. At this time I didn’t realize that I clicked over to my mom on the other line. Sure enough looked up some info and found out this has been going on since 2008 to people all over the world. They are calling from all over the world from different countries. The call I got said New York Call #212-000-3459 I did a reverse phone number trace and it comes back # not known. I just wanted to let all of my friends and family know about this Scam!!! It is all over the internet about it. Please don’t fall for it or they’ll have all your info and they will damage your computer!!

  2. When they phone up, just tell them that Apple- Linux do not run windows, they usually ring off !. Personally, if I have the time, I will string them along for as long as I can before revealing that I use a Mac.

  3. I just received one of these calls. Claimed he had received messages from my computer that it was infected and that my firewall was corrupted so my anti-virus wasn’t working. I got his email and phone number and said I would contact him after I double checked for myself on the validity of his claims. Told him I was computer saavy and I think he decided I was a lost cause.

  4. Hi
    Just had exactly the same call. Knowing it was a scam I used the most abusive, obscene language I knew to tell him to go away, and slammed down the phone.

    He phoned back a few moments later. I just hung up.

    Yet again he phoned back, I told him I was a computer engineer and that I knew this was a scam and to ‘go away’ and hung up.

    He then called back a fourth time, I said stop bothering me, I will not answer any more calls and then hung up. As yet he has not called back.

    Gold star for persistence?

  5. I just got called by these criminals, who didn’t even try to make a convincing greeting. “Hi, are you the primary user of the computer at your home” or something like that without mentioning Windows..Only a couple sentences in and me asking revealed the lie that he was from “windows”.. I asked where he was calling from… he said “Windows New York Head Office, you know Windows is an American company.”
    “What a bunch of f’in amateurs” as Walter Sobchak (Big Lebowski) would say. -American in Sweden. But im sure they get a lot of people just the same.

  6. I just recieved a call from a Window’s Support tech, and her name was Jan Smith, who had a heavy Indian Accent. The phone number they called me from was (209) 676-4447. She said that I had a very powerful computer virus in my system and that immediate action was necessary. She told me to turn on my computer and press the windows key that is located right next to the ctrl key. And she told me to simultaneously press the “R” key. In the box that popped out, she told me to type in the letters: “cmd” and press the “run” button. Before I pressed the run button, I got very suspicious and I ended my phone call with her and told her that I would call back if anything. Some natural instinct told me not to go any further in the instructions she was giving me. I really don’t know who to trust when I receive these phone calls, especially after I have received so many span e-mails from Window’s support asking me to give them my password and login ID. Anybody had similar phone calls? Is this another one of them dirty scams?

  7. On October 12, 2012 i receiced a call from an Indian lady by the name SANDRA stateing she’s from MY WINDOWS SUPPORT and that my computer have a virus and it’s sending it to their servers. She wanted me to start my computer up and type some file name by the name evengvwr. I didn’t however because I was suspious of the phone call from the begining because i was preparing dinner and ask her to call me back whiche she insist is only going to take 15 minuets, I offer to call her back but she refuse to give me her number, then i pretended i was doing as she ask and request her number again, it’s 646-559-6161 then I said “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO GO” then i hang up. On 10/13/2012 I do a search on the number Nothing came up on it.
    So that’s my story on my SCAM Call.

  8. My dad was called by an Indian lady on the 6th September 2012 claiming she was calling from Windows Support. She sent my dad to a website – http://www.support.com – and somehow got him to type in a six digit password somewhere. Apparently, he followed her instructions and downloaded a series of programs, which I found in his downloads folder like registrybooster.exe and multiple other files. I’ve deleted anything that looked suspicious. Is there anything else that they may have done to the computer which I am not aware of? How can I go about checking that the computer doesn’t have any viruses or trojans or worse? Any knowledge would be helpful. Thanks.

  9. I just got a call from some lady claiming to be from Mivcrosoft saying I had downloaded a malicious file and it was corrupting my C drive. She called from a blocked number and I knew it was a scam right away. I asked how she knew and she said because I’m connected to the internet and so is Microsoft so they get all the errors sent to them. I told her she was a scammer and hung up. I’m in Canada.

  10. Quantum PC Support is now calling numbers in east Gippsland (the southeast corner of Australia).
    What to do if they call you? If they sound Chinese, here are three options:
    (1) “No, your name isn’t [Barry]; it’s One Long Pong.”
    (2) “Do lay low mow HI!” which is Chinese; I won’t give the exact translation, but it’s incredibly obscene and incredibly insulting.
    (3) “There’s a stereotype of Chinese being cheats. Some of us are trying to tear down that stereotype. You’re not helping.”

  11. Thanks so much he was charged £133.00 instead of £10.00 ba****ds catching old people out! have sorted the comp and accounts out! THANKS! ANYONE ELSE DO NOT GET CAUGHT OUT!

  12. PLEASE HELP! “windows” have just cold called my grandfather and he allowed them to do all the things you said DO NOT DO! Now what?! Im really mad at him for being so naive! what do we do now! is he going to have money taken out of his account or what?!

  13. I just got this call yestarday and I live in Sweden. The woman said she called from Scotland. When questioning if she called from Microsoft she started to deny that. I almost fell for it as I not that long ago had called Microsoft and talked to a woman with Indian accent at a callcenter… Fortunately I know enough about computers to figure out that she was talking garbage. She directed me to http://www.support.me which ought to be closed down as well as another site named online pc-care (don’t remember the URL)- which also should be closed down.

  14. Just now got a call from “Lee Cooper”, computer tech support, at 201-282-5615, He admitted that he was calling from Delhi. Strong Indian accent. Told my wife that our computer was in the process of downloading a dangerous virus, and we must do as he says so he can stop it and restore our computer to proper order.

    My wife knew immediately this was a scam, since we do not own a Windows computer, and the way he talked, he obviously assumed we did. His instructions:
    1. Look at the lower left end of your keyboard, find the “Windows” key, looks like a colorful window.
    2. Hold that key down and press the “r” key.
    3. Tell me what you see on your screen.

    Now I’m on the phone. I stalled a bit, pretending I didn’t understand whether he wanted me to press ctrl-r or WindowsLogo-r, but when I did as he asked, I told him it made a cheery beep or chirp sound. (that’s what that keystroke combo does on Mac OS 10.5) Meanwhile my wife is dialing the police to try to catch this guy somehow.

    He does not realize I’m using a Mac, and starts getting frustrated. Uses the term “Windows” again, so I tell him I’m running Linux. “Oh, hold on a moment,” he says. I’m on hold for just over a minute.

    He comes on the phone again and his new instructions are:
    1. Open a new browser window
    2. in the URL box, enter “www.support.me” (I open a Google window instead and search for “support.me”. Several search results confirm that this is a scam.)
    3. Enter a 6-digit code in the box I see on my screen (which I don’t see, since I’m not visiting his site!)
    4. I play along, tell him there is no code here. “Hang on a moment”– in about 30 seconds he comes back on the line with the code 284836.
    5. “Now click on ‘Run’.”

    By this time my wife has realized that our local police can’t do anything to help and has left a voicemail for them. I keep stalling, saying that I don’t see a button that says “Run”, maybe I ought to pull up the Linux terminal screen. Okay, “run” what? Tell me what to type.

    At this point the scammer has caught on that I am just trying to use up as much of his time as possible so he can’t spend those moments successfully scamming some other poor soul. He tells me “Okay, sir, your computer is perfectly fine, you can hang up the call.” Then he waits for me to hang up! I just keep chatting. Finally he hangs up on me.

    I hope someone catches and prosecutes these guys.

    But why would he want me to hang up on him? Does it have something to do with the support protocol at Support.Me? Just curious…

  15. This scam is still going. Indian sounding guy tried to convince me that my url was sending out malicious codes despite me telling him that I didn’t have a computer. Wasted at least 20 mins of his time, first 10 mins I just kept saying helllllloooooooooo very wierdly, surprised he didn’t just hang up. It was obvious from the off that it was a scam even though he did ask for me by name. Quite entertaining really – but I hope they don’t catch anyone out.

  16. Hey, I got a call from these people. My mum convinced me she knew what it was about.

    Which means my laptop is now out of commission until I can be sure no malware remains.

    I had an idea for what to do if they called again. Someone in a comment above mentioned setting off a fire alarm to say that the dinner was burning.

    Well, if they’re going to be criminals by credit card fraud, I say we can do one better. They can’t use a phone to cold call someone if they’ve been deafened.

    Holding the phone up to the smoke alarm and hitting ‘Test’ should do the trick.

    Alternately for people not willing to do this to people, just put some classical music on youtube, put the phone next to the speakers and say “Sorry we can’t get to the phone at the moment – you have been placed on hold.” Every so often, go back to the phone. If they haven’t hung up, say “Your call is important to us. Please hold.”

    They deserve it.

  17. Rec’d a similar call this evening, caller said he was located somewhere in CA. I could not understand what he was saying due to his accent but did get enough to realize he was asking about my windows programs having a virus and sending/receiving corrupt information through the internet and that Microsoft was getting messages regarding my computer. I was leary, kept asking him to repeat himself, told him finally that I really did not want to talk to him, he then said something about not being responsible when my computer went down in a few hours, he asked me if I was sitting in front of my computer, told him no and there was no way I was going to get in front of my computer. My husband tried to talk to him, but static was bad and he told the guy to hang up and call a sucker, he wasn’t getting anywhere with us, then hung up. Ready if they call again. Saw some good suggestions in these comments.

  18. What’s funny is the anger and rudeness when the target is uncooperative. Clearly it is a job to them, with targets to meet, and the targets are at fault if they waste time, or question their ethics.
    Best way to kill this is for everyone to waste as much time as possible: answer the door, change the baby’s nappy, whatever.

  19. I just received one of these calls telling me my computer had downloaded corrupted files. As I was having trouble with my computer last night, I listened for a bit. He told me I needed them to scan it and I told him I have a good antivirus program. His response: “I’m not talking about your bloody antivirus software!” I do not like swearing at the best of times so that made me angry so I hung up without another word. Disgusting.

  20. Wellington New Zealand here. Mine was a heavily accented South Asian, phoning from ‘Auckland’, NZ (it’s always Auckland), I think using a mobile. I played along with it, but drew the line at accessing http://www.supportme. At which point he told me I had wasted his time and that my computer would be kaput in 6 hours.

    Maybe if enough of us waste his time …

  21. I got same call today. I did not believe him so I ask for his number and told him that I will call him. He gave me 1-800-847-8713. His name was jimmy roger. I Google about this and found this.

  22. Hey. I got as far as letting them control my computer, and scanning with some weird program they downloadet. Can they see my passwords and bank info now? What should i do?

  23. They’re not Indians. They’re Pakistanis posing as Indians. In fact, Indians themselves keep getting such calls/ messages on their phones and computers from these Paki scandalous groups.

  24. same deal, same scam, I asked the guy if he had ever heard of Jesus our saviour, I am not really joking with the guy and am certainly not mocking the Lord, I get so many of these calls and have decided I will talk to them of God and the Son of God. He said he believed in Jesus, and since we both did I should believe him, ofcourse this is not how it works and I told him so and continued to talk to him about the bible, the book of revelation and asked him if he knew of any of the end time signs and warnings… it was interesting and I plan to do the same again.

  25. For your entertainment – Got one of these muppets call me today. Like all of you, I have a Virus. It went like this:

    I’ve got a Virus? Oh cooooool. I love viruses. How many do we have?

    You need to…..

    Hang on, I have some antiviral medicines in my cupboard, will this help? It say’s on the packet, take two before lunch. It kills all nuisance calls dead! Like this one. (Hangs up)

  26. I’ve just had someone from Malaysia ring me saying they are from Windows and that there were major online virus’ infecting computers.

    I asked her who she was to be ringing me about my computer, she very rudely told me she was from Windows so I told her rudely to bugger off. I’ve run a virus scan on my computer just in case, but these people can catch you on an off day, when you’re tired or just not taking notice, they are a bloody pest!!

  27. Just got one of these from an Indian with awful accent. I should have hung up. I was having computer problems so thought it legit. Very angry at myself as I let him guide me onto the computer. When he asked for $$$ for internet security and I refused he hung up. Anyone know danger of having someone look at your computer.

  28. Same – two weeks running I have had an Indian sounding gentleman insisting that I have a genuine fault with my windows computer – I asked him where he got my number from and told him I didn’t have a computer …. first time he put the phone down – this week I told him I don’t believe a word he’s saying – even though he kindly offered to fix the problem for me if I went in from of the computer I don’t have!
    How do these people behind this sleep at night – it’s a sad reflection of our society!!

  29. Similar story, just had a call from from an Indian chap reportedly from something that sounded like “247 b secure.” I played stupid and asked what I should do but the guy clearly realised I was on to him as he told me to take my computer to a local tech support place then hung up – now I’m somewhat annoyed to have been hung up on rather than having had the chance to hang up on them!

  30. Call came to me today. So I went searching to find out what was going one. Thank you for this site.

  31. These guys are still doing the rounds. My mother in New Zealand received a call from guy with Indian accent, said his name was Sangwtt, calling from Windows Support Centre in Florida. He said the computer was sending a signal indicating the hard drive would be at risk in next 48 hours. My mother couldn’t understand him an he gave a number to call back 099070777. He then got his supervisor, Jennifer, who basically repeated the information, gave contact number 099097852. Interestingly, a google search of this number only came up with someone who posted a message at Who Called Me website, asking to identify the caller.

  32. I received a call from a firm calling themselves Quantum PC Support. I did not believe they were genuine but I checked the name on the internet and it brought up a genuine-looking website, he confirmed the address and telephone number held on it. I said I would call them back but they insisted on dealing with the matter straight away saying there was not enough time. I explained that I was in no rush and would check their details. I was looking for a mention of this firm on a website like yours but did not find one in time. Although at no point did I believe him, I did go on the website for Quantum PC Support. The http part of the web address was crossed out. Not sure if I should have even done this. Can you confirm that this can cause no harm? Thank you

  33. Just a heads up to say these scammers are still on the loose. Just had a call from 0253820308 (odd number??) asking for my wife (by name). When I told her she was out (she wasn’t but I was already suspicious) and could I take a message, he started on about how “the PC was corrupt”. I didn’t even bother to tell him I’m a Sys Admin and that we have a Mac at home, not a PC. Just told him to go away (it might have actually been a bit ruder than that), that I knew it was a scam and hung up.

  34. Received cold call from “Quantum PC Support” – caller had a foreign (India/Africa) accent and discussed something called “online harmful infections” and directed me to the event viewer. Obviously a phishing scam and I played along for quite sometime – maybe 10 minutes. He was called Richard and we established that , although I wasn’t a customer, they were ringing people at random to run some checks. I asked some basic questions, along the lines of “if I’m not one of your customers, then who is paying your wages” – which were deftly and carefully side stepped. He also couldn’t tell me what my IP address was or what had alerted them to the fact I might have a problem. Eventually a more agressive individual came on the line and explained that if I had one of the major online harmful infections, it would be a chargeable task to remove it. At this point I couldn’t hold it together any longer and started laughing – at which point he hung up.
    1) Always ask up front what it is they are selling and if they say they aren’t selling anything, you can remind them later on in the call when they do try to sell you something.
    2) Try to get them to state who is paying their wages, as legit Companies don’t operate call centres for free.
    3) Never give away personal details, run any software, connect to any URL they recommennd or allow any remote connections without knowing exactly who you are dealing with.

  35. Had a call today saying about viruses on my brothers laptop, being 12 he let them remotely control his computer for a while, they were asking for a payment of £60 and my mum was about to do it until I looked at the form on my phone/email, some dodgy PayPal request with no notes or anything from a name that wasn’t even stated once on the phone. The name on the PayPal was ashish agarwalla. Hope this helps in any way.

  36. Hi, i´m from Sweden and a man from “windows support” called me today. I asked why he was calling from U.K and not from Sweden and he could not answer. “It´s about your PC with windows” he said, but I told him I don´t have any PC (I have Mac). Then he hang up.

  37. I got this phone call yesterday 3-17-12 so the scam is alive as well apparently. my BIL got the same phone call the same morning. stated that he was calling because I have a windows computer. Like that made it all okay. he explained that my computer was sending out viruses.. and needed to be fixed. I asked him how he knew… he said all windows computers are. “so my work computer too?” he didn’t know about that one. anyway I didn’t have time to deal with him and told him so and hung up. he called me right back and asked why did I hang up on him. I reapeated myself and he wanted to know when he could call… I told him I would have to verify the incident before I would talk to him again. we’ll see if he calls me back or not.

  38. Got the call today from avery covincing indian sounding guy – perhaps the fact that I am in my late 60’s made it easier for him. I told him straight away that I thought it was a scam but he assured me when asked that he worked for Windows and my PC had shown up on their system as not accepting updates. He even told me what he said was my licence number and this checked out where he told me to look on my PC. He then guided me in to part of the programme which showed lots of warnings etc. then went on to get me to transfer to one of their technicians by connecting my PC to theirs, even giving me a pin number to connect but at this point I hung up. He was still on the other end when I tried to ring someone for advice 5 mins. later. Pleased to see that I did the right thing in the end.

  39. I’m in New Zealand,these guys call all night,sometimes up to midnight,we don’t answer..apparently they are using some kind of automated calling bot,thus all the hangups. I was advised by Telstra to change our number and go unlisted. If I do get someone I ask them what a computer is or do they want to buy glass (ie Windows).

  40. Just got a call – my caller told me our OS was corrupt & they were trying to help me. Heavy Indian accent. Hung up on them.

  41. I just received a call from these people. I didn’t answer the first time – it came up on my phone as ‘overseas private’ (I am in Australia), a second call straight away came up as overseas, with the number 44052690878. He was Indian, a little hard to understand, not sure where he said he was from, but said that he was receiving corrupt file messages from my computer. I knew straight away this was some sort of scam, so I played along for a while, asked lots of questions, let him continue on with his spiel….then told him I didn’t have a computer. He hung up on me lol

  42. They are hard at it. Received the call this morning. When I told them that I would personally call Microsoft to verify this information, they told me that I would only be referred back to them. Really?? They went to get a Supervisor, I hung up and blocked their number from calling back.

  43. These people never stop calling. I get a call every week now. Just had one and kept them talking for 5 minutes before telling them I only use Linux, not Windows. That made them hang up quick.

    Next time I’m going to pretend I’ve got Tourettes.

  44. Got caught out Saturday morning, Indian guy,hard to understand, I was really tired and thought it was weird but went along with it and he accessed my computer,showed me the so-called ‘corupt files’ I tried to hang up and switch the computer off, but he rang me back and when I asked him how much it was going to cost he mumbled something about £104 and I said I couldnt make decisions like that while my husband wasnt here, and said you would need to call me back tomorrow, then he put someone else on who said his name was Vince, who tried to get me to take out their ‘virus control’ googled company – microtecsupport.com and when he said it was a ‘toll-free’ number I was even more suspicious as we in Uk call them ‘freephone’!
    1471 showed number withheld and they didnt call me back yesterday either!
    Feel so stupid, falling for it so got a friend to restore my computer and notebook to an earlier time and removed remote access permissions as well. Ive changed all my passwords; hotmail; bank; amazon etc and just hope they are not able to infect my computer or netbook. We need to get this on the national news and consumer shows

  45. And so it seems that the scammers have worked their way finally around to Canada. Got a call this evening from a man with an Indian accent who asked for me by name and then stated that he was from “Microsoft Tech Support” and that he had been “alerted that there were problems with my pc”. Mmmyeah… right. Phish me another one. The caller’s phone number was “not known”.

    Found this wonderful blog via searching “windows support telephone scam”. Thank you James Wiseman, keep up the good work. 🙂

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