Microsoft Virus Phone Scam

Keyboard pc
Creative Commons License photo credit: andreaverdiani

Our post on the Windows phone scam continues to get a lot of hits, suggesting that the scam is still around, and fraudsters are still trying to con PC users out of money for performing largely useless tasks on their computers.

However, they recently picked on the wrong person to scam; BBC technology correspondant Rory Cellan-Jones, who played along with them for a bit, and recorded the conversation, which was played out on Today on Radio 4 (listen to the call here).

Suffice to say, when Rory revealed that he didn’t in fact own a PC, the caller got rather annoyed, and accused Rory of wasting his time, as well as (unsurprisingly) refusing to give a contact number for the firm he worked for.

The scams take on different forms, but essentially there are two flavours, which they may mix and match:

  • They’ll convince you that standard error reporting on your PC is actually a virus, and get you to pay them to get rid of the errors
  • Once again they’ll convince you that your PC is riddled with viruses, and will install malicious software which can steal your banking data.
The first scenario is probably the most likely, as they can get hold of your money there and then.

A new blog has also been started which purports to be from an ex-employee of one of the companies carrying out this scam (which are often, if not always, taking place from Indian call centres).

The blog post reveals some of the tricks behind the scam, but also gives a few details on what to do if you’ve been taken in, including how to stop them connecting to your PC with the software that they’ll get you to download. Most of the software they use is actually legitimately used for IT support, including Ammyy, which itself is warning about the scams.

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34 thoughts on “Microsoft Virus Phone Scam

  1. I have been contacted rwice by these scummers (mistake intetional) But they are supremely unconvincing, I think it’s the initial shock of thinking that ones computer has been infected that has one reaching for one’ wallet

  2. I was also caught on 18 November 2011 and when they came with stories too good to be true I realised that something was wrong. I am 68 and most probably not so aware than younger people and followed instructions. My Malware showed exactly what they made me type and warned me that there was a problem and I immediately deleted it and I spent an entire day to try and fix up what I thought might give problems. Surely it is very clear now that one must be very careful and I will never allow any telephone pests to shunt me around in future. It is more as if those people has a virus in their brains that has to be seen to.

  3. Over the last few weeks i’ve had several calls. Some put the phone down when you question them in any detail all are Asian both sexes. Today I attempted to play along a bit to elicit some info.Claim to be a worldwide company trying to rectify your computer problems. Woman(Asian) claimed to be called Anna attempted to get me to enter run from the start menu and delete what was there and enter new info. I wouldn’t play ball and she said they were based in Cardiff @ 31 Cathedral Road but gave me a London telephone number 0203 2399544. Upon ringing this another Asian man was reluctant to give me much info. Then Anna rang back and tried again. I told her to remove my number as I didn’t believe a word . PLEASE DON’T FALL FOR THIS SCAM.

  4. I have been contacted twice in the past 2 days by a company called “Lets Assist”. Firstly an asian man and the second time an asian woman saying my computer is sending out error messages and clogging up the entire system so they need to clean up my computer. They say there address is “Liverpool Street, Leicestershire, London”!!!!! I played along for a bit and then she put the phone down. DON’T FALL FOR IT!!!.

  5. I have received a telephone call from a foreign sounding lady saying that there is a problem with my computer. It is an unknown error to do with Microsoft Windows. Having heard recently about this scam I advised her that I did not have a computer and she apologised for troubling me and hung up. I did a 1471 and the number left was 00911800456324. Can’t this person be traced?

  6. I was contacted a few minutes ago by a man with a strong Asian (India) accent, who claimed he was from the Windows Technical Department and that there were viruses on my computer that were clogging up the “Windows Technical Department” computers.
    I played along, instantly suspicious that it was a scam. He wanted me to click on START…. RUN… then type in eventvwr and click OK. At that point, I specifically asked him for his company name. He replied “Windows Technical Department”, and when I asked if he was with Microsoft, he replied “yes”. I then asked for his phone number, indicating that I would get the owner of the computer to call back, and they gave me the following phone number: 201-257-5635.

  7. Why do I continually receive telephone calls from India claiming to be on behalf of Microsoft
    Software, with the calling number barred ? The latest call was today 24th November 2011 at 1341 from an Indian gentleman who claimed his name was Alex Johnstone,that he was a Certified Microsoft Engineer working in their Technical Department and that he would take me through matters on my computer to resolve a problem of which I am totally unaware.
    Apart from the fact that his line kept breaking up, I have treated all such calls (approaching 20 in recent times) as possible scams.

  8. I have been plagued by these guys for nearly a year claiming to be ‘from your windows computer department’. I have tried being nice, being rude, etc and insisted they remove my details from their database, but they keep on ringing – sometimes once or twice a week. I know its a scam and would NEVER let a stranger install anything on my computer.

    Does anyone know how to get rid of them? 1471 doesn’t work to get their number but is there a number logger than I can get to record their details and pass on to the police?

  9. I just received a phone call at 8.00am from ‘John’ at an Indian call centre advising me that he was from Microsoft and they had detected my computer was infected with viruses. John had sent me a number of message and I hadn’t replied – my fault. I said I checked my email and my spam folder regularly and I hadn’t seen any. Then he said that the messages in another way direct to my computer… blah de blah…

    I knew it was a scam from the start.

    He said to prove that I could trust him he would tell me the serial number of my computer: 00C04FD7D062. Of course that isn’t the serial number of anything. He wanted me to click a few things from my desktop so he could prove I could trust him. I didn’t.

    At this point what had started out as something I was interest to see how the scam went became boring. But I wondered if he would give me any information in return. I said I was busy and I could call him back. He scuffed around for a couple of minutes and then gave me his phone number. I haven’t called it, but it may be of interest to someone else: 442035829619

    Just to be clear – THIS IS A SCAM BY CRIMINALS

  10. Have just spent at least an hour on the phone with first a lady with an Indian accent and then later, when I wasn’t keen to believe anything she told me, with one of these scammers, claiming to be a certified Microsoft engineer from efix.co, name John Jack – sent me to a website to check he was genuine, gave me a toll-free phone number 0800 5200 304 etc etc. Claimed he could solve various computer problems that he knew we had, directed me to the management system where a long list of information, errors and warnings were displayed. Claimed he could delete them all and stop them occurring. Wanted me to run a program to solve everything – I didn’t! Then accused me of carrying out cyber crime, potentially affecting the whole of the UK and told me he was cancelling my licence to run Windows so my computer would crash, it would cost me hundreds of pounds to have it fixed – the only good news was that he said I’d never get another call from them to offer me support! Beware!

  11. I got this call yesterday. Not once, but twice. The first time a man, calling himself Michael, called, I told him I couldnt get to my computer (I was actually sitting right by it) and he would have to call back. 3 hours later he actually did, which shocked me to no end. I figured he would realize I was onto his idiotic scam and that would be the end of it. When he called back I handed the phone to my husband (he has no problem being rude) and laughed while they “talked.” Less than a minute later the man on the other end was yelling as my husband hung up the phone.

  12. I got a call from ” Microsoft” claiming that they got my error reports and this needs to be fixed or my computer will crash.
    They were very insistent calling me 5 times each time from “Microsoft” to fix my problem for $250. He even gave me my his Microsoft employee ID. then they said I have to pay to PC Geeks.
    Beware of PC geeks.

  13. I have just had one of these calls. I told the man I was speaking to that I was suspicious so he put me onto his ‘senior technician’. Like the previous comments, these scammers claimed to be from Microsoft Technical Department. I asked them how they knew that I had infected files, or even that I owned a computer. Their explanation was that they could tell from reports that had been sent from my postcode. They said that infected files had been put onto my computer by hackers, even when it was switched off. Whilst I am not particularly IT savvy, I like to think I have common sense. However they scare the bejeezers out of you and make you worry about even what is clearly ridiculous. The phone number they gave me to call for ‘proof’ was 02081339207. I asked them to give me a call 2 hours later…. I am still waiting. Luckily I took advice from a friend in IT before anything serious happened – these scammers need catching.

  14. My mom just purchased her new computer yesterday. She just received one of these calls moments ago. The guy an “Andy Roberts”(with a heavy Indian accent)claimed to be from Microsoft new her first and last name proceeded to tell her that her computer was corrupted. In fact, 88% of her files were riddled with viruses. He rigged it up so that she can see him accessing her computer and showing her the percentage of her correupted files.His number 516 746 9209 showed up on her phone display. He wanted $176 for the year to fix her computer. He gave her a code 415 955.Luckily she put him on hold and called me immediately to verify and I told her to hang up on him and that it was a scam. Luckily he didn’t get any private information from her.

  15. I have just had a call from an indian sounding guy called peter from One stop solutions microsoft saying that my computor is corrupted and needs cleaning, the same person called 3 months ago from a different company, I tried getting deetails from them but they do not give much away contacted microsoft and it is a scam so look out ..

  16. I am a pc repair tech here in Cyprus, and a customer just had one of these Microsft support calls from an Indian/SriLankan sounding guy, saying the same as all previous posts.
    He knew full nbame and address (phone book) of my customer, and talked him through to event viewer where some errors (we have errors here!) were listed. blah blah blah……. he asked for money to fix it and my customer hung up and rang me.

    Why does it always seem to asian/indian accents??

  17. My sister (who has learning difficulties) received one of these calls yesterday. Like in Ozzie’s post on 4 December he gave her a code to put in – and because she is a trusting sole she did it. Luckily I walked in half way through the call and turned her wireless connection off. I then told him exactly what I thought about ‘scummers’ (see Elizabeth Tokam’s post 4 November) before hanging up . We have changed all her passwords with online banks, shopping etc, cancelled cards. Run norton and mircrosoft scans etc etc. I can’t find any malware on her pc – but god knows what personal details they have got. If anyone has any other advice it would be greatly received

  18. Unfortunately, I was naiive enough to fall for the scammer. I gave him my IP address but nothing more. I’ve been going through all of these sites trying to figure out HOW to fix this. Yes, yes I know don’t go giving away your IP address to strangers. By now I am sure many of us know that, but I just wish someone would explain HOW to fix this situation for people like me. Thank you.

  19. I had the same call from efix.co where the fake technician gave his name as John Jack and asked me to Google it. I got this website first, not the one he wanted!

    For Dolly above, your IP address is necessarily visible to every website you visit, and hackers can attempt to guess IP addresses anyway. If that is all you gave away, and you didn’t let them connect to your PC, I don’t think you need worry unduly.

  20. Only yesterday morning my friend rang to ask for my assistance with a phone call she had received a few minutes earlier from an Asian sounding man claiming to be a computer technical support technician for the Windows based in the UK, she told him she was busy and if he could call her back, I was around in a shot to take the next call if he should call back, he did, 1 hr later. I asked him how he had come by my friend’s number as we are in Cyprus, he gave me a load of jargon alot of which I did not understand due to his very badly spoken english he went on to give me her full name and address plus the phone number, then told me the same sort of things as in the above postings, being weary of fraudulent activities over the internet I asked him for his name and number, (David Richards) but refused to give a number but that he would give it only after I told him the IP ….that’s when I promptly told him where he could go, he was screaming down the phone as I hung up.

  21. I have just had a call from an Indian guy saying my computer was slow, I was very dubious but did look into my computer to see these ‘warnings’ he was talking about. I then asked him questions about how he got my number, who he was and why he didn’t know I was actually on-line at the time he called (I also have a good Internet Security so knew everything was okay). He then said he will put me through to his supervisor. I stopped him and asked why he would do that – he was vague. I then asked him to call back later when my husband is home…he agreed! I am actually really looking forward to that conversation should he call back!!! The number that showed me on my phone was 0161 1000342 – I called it back and it said this number was in-correct! The number is a local number to me which is why I answered. No money was mentioned but he didn’t get that far as I kept interrupting him! Be careful though, if you’re not sure about computers and yours is running slow you could be fooled!!

  22. Firstly as the article says, treat these calls exactly as you would a random house caller saying you need to fix your roof/driveway etc.
    Next make sure you have a good firewall and antivirus programs and that they are always running when you are online (some of the best have free versions for personal use as opposed to businesses -(Comodo, Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and destroy etc.)
    Finally keep things in your PC neatly and defragment it once a month at least. This is like having a room with everything kept neatly and with you knowing where everything is stored – as opposed to a giant mess that takes you ages to sort through. Keep similar things in the same place, use folders and files properly etc.
    If you do these things your PC will run optimally and won’t be infected (or at least you will find out right away and the above protection programs will kill it for you). You can then be sure you don’t need any outside “expert” and finally of course never use any “help” from an unknown source.

  23. Next time I get one I am going to try and worry them. I will keep them talking and stall them as long as possible (without actually letting them at my PC of course) then cover the phone “badly” and let them overhear me confirming that we have a trace on the number. By the way I hope when law enforcement get calls like this taht they actually do trace the scum.

  24. Yep, just had a call from a man with an Indian accent claiming to be from “Windows” and said their server had received error messages from my computer which needed to be fixed. I asked which company he was from and how he had my telephone number – were they calling everyone whose computer was returning “error messages”? I couldn’t actually understand what he was saying so he said he would transfer me to his Supervisor who rather handily appeared to be standing right next to him! She was called Aileen and said the company was Creative Solutions which was a service provider for Windows. I was suspicious right from the start but she was able to give me so much correct information (including my ip address) that I began to wonder if I was being a bit hasty. I can see it would be easy to be taken in by them as I consider myself pretty savvy! I even got as far as downloading an application called “Support Me” (which has a blue cross logo). Luckily I didn’t run it and I have now deleted it and run a scan which doesn’t seem to have detected anything so hopefully no harm done. Any thoughts on whether I need to do/check anything else? I finally had enough and said I didn’t want to take it further although they were pretty persistent, asking if they could call back later. I said no. I did get a phone number from them which was 0208-099-0634. I have just rung it and there is a recorded message saying “Bye!”. Is there no way these people can be stopped??

  25. I am in Adelaide South Australia, scam is world wide. I just got a call from “Kevin Paul” from “Lets Assist”. Usual crap about error messages I asked which Country is he in, evasive answers, asked how he got my name and number, he claimed it was linked to my Windows Registration. (Windows is registered to my company, my name and number is not associated with it) HeGave me a web address whch had an expired domain name, so he gave me another which looked good. I skyped the Sydney number and got some other person to answer, but I could here Kevin in the back ground. Address did not exist in Sydney. Eventually Kevin passed me to
    his supervisor, (female) who tried the same crap then passed me on to her supervisor, who tried the same crap again. In the end, this man lost his temper completely and HUNG UP ON ME!
    This means I won that round, and I got the bonus of preventing them calling other victims plus getting the scammer pissed off.
    Sometimes life is good

  26. I received a call on 03/03/2012. The caller actually called me by my surname which made it seem more convincing. Like other posts have mentioned, the caller had an Asian accent. I wasn’t aware of this scam but felt that something wasn’t right. In hind site, I regret not stringing the caller along. I do think this needs to be in the news more frequently to create more public awareness.

  27. I received a phone call this morning (twice) from these people. Fortunately I was already aware of this cowardly scam and gave both callers the biggest earfuls you will ever of heard, the language was blue and afterwards I had a good chuckle about it. People, don’t give these scumbags the time of day and use it as a stress release :o)

  28. I just received a phone call from an Indian guy telling me he was from windows microsoft and my pc had been affected. I have good security so knew nothing was wrong. I wasnt aware of the scam but took his number 02081339207 and said I would call back. Thats when I found this site :)

  29. I’m sixteen years old. This morning, roughly 11:15, my dad picked up the phone. I overheard him saying stuff about downloads. So me, being the computer kid of the house, my dad passed the phone to me.

    There was a woman with a strong Indian accent on the other end of the line claiming to work at/with Windows. I was very suspicious because the delay of her speaking was at least 2 seconds. So she must have been somewhere located in India.

    She asked if I was the owner of the laptop blah blah blah, then she passed me onto the supervisor. An Indian man answered this time, he asked me if I had been noticing slowness on my laptop. My laptop is extremely fast compared to other laptops, and I’ve had mine for 4 years.

    He then got me to press the Windows key, and R. This brought up the RUN application. He then told me to type “eventvwr”. He told me all the Warnings I could see in the window were bad. He then told me to go to a website, which downloaded something, and then he took hold of my computer with a program called “Support LogMeIn Rescue” the Icon was a Blue Circle, and a White Cross.

    I was tired and annoyed because I had to get to school at 12. I should have left at 11:30, it was now 11:45.

    Once he took control of the laptop, he suddenly stopped, and then claimed my computer was very slow, I told him that it’s their connection problem, because I could still move the mouse, click other windows, and all that. He then put me on hold. After waiting for about 2 minutes (that’s how long he said he’ll be) I cancelled everything that he did on the computer, disconnected his Remote Access, and deleted everything he installed and locked my laptop.

    Apparently while I was in school, they rang up two more times, but my grandma said that we were all out, and she wasn’t going to hand over any information.

    My house phone keeps track of Recieved calls, and the number they had been using was 0012068884362. That’s quite a long number, longer than any standard number at least.

    My laptop seems to be okay at the moment, It seems I managed to stop whatever they were trying. Hopefully they’ll ring up again so I can make them angry like how some of the people here have done!

    But yeah, it’s all a scam, I can’t believe I let them take control, but they haven’t done anything to affect my laptop in any way.

  30. Hi I get called at least once a week from this Indian call centre – alarmingly they have quite a lot of details of me as I have extracted this over the countless calls.

    I can safely track the details from a PC I bought many years ago from Time PC’s.

    They have my old address which could only have come from that PC.

    I am not one to fall for cons – but I am more alarmed at my personal information (albeit it being over 10 years ago LOL…) being out with criminals.

    Where have you bought your PC from – from the details they have of me I can trace it exactly to Time!

  31. Has anyone contacted the following companies before getting calls from these scammers:

    Microsoft
    HP
    Sage

    It seems that the Real Technicians could sell your info to their scammer friends/families.

  32. I’ve been called 4 times and immediately known it was a scam.

    I’ve entertained myself by seemingly going along with it but asking stupid questions all the time.

    My record for keeping them on the line is 95 minutes!

  33. Just received a call to convince me that my computer had viruses.

    Lucky for me, I work in IT and knew it was all bogus.

    They asked me to load up Event Viewer and showed me lots of warnings and errors and tried to convince me that these represented viruses (which they are not – they are normal).

    The asked me to load up ‘msconfig’ and show a list of services and tried to persuade me that the ‘stopped’ services were caused by viruses. (Which they are not. They’re just stopped because you don’t need all of them).

    They then showed me a long number that they tried to convince me was unique to my computer in order to give themselves authenticity. But the key (888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062) is the same for everyone with windows.

    After going through this song and dance, they tried to get me to start a remote control session using http://www.anypc.org. (I’ve not come across this before but assume it’s a standard remote control tool). They asked me to click ‘Repair my PC with Ammyy’

    It was at this point that I asked him what his company was because I didn’t know him and I should check before I allowed remote control.

    He told me to go to http://www.letsassist.net and to call the number there and ask for Steve (The guy who was calling). He wanted to stay on the line whilst I made the call from a different phone but it was at this point that I hung up.

  34. Just to let you know the scam in the various forms described above is alive and well in 2015. Just received such a call (5TH Jan) so be VERY VERY CAREFUL before allowing phone strangers to guide you through procedures on your computer supposedly for your benefit.If you have any doubts get the name of the company said to be represented and Google it. Look through all the postings as in this case “LetsAssist” has its own site lauding s services.
    Its sad that not only the instigators don’t seem to be able to be prosecuted but according to a sit reporting on these scams young people trying to support themselves are enticed in by good salaries but they seldom get paid anything as the proprietors claim they failed to meet the impossible targets set. Everyone loses except the proprietors.
    Be alert but don’t lose faith that most people are decent.

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