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Microsoft Dumps Partner For Fake Support Call Scam

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out dept.

Security 212

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has broken its relationship with one of its Gold Partners, after it discovered that the partner was involved in a scam involving bogus tech support calls. India-based Comantra is said to have cold-called computer users in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, claiming to offer assistance in cleaning up virus infections. The calls used scare tactics to talk users into opening the Event Viewer on Windows, where a seemingly dangerous list of errors would be seen. This 'evidence' was used to trick innocent users into believing they had a malware infection, and for Comantra to gain the users' confidence. Duped users would then give permission for the support company to have remote access to their PC, and hand over their credit card details for a 'fix.' Security firm Sophos says that internet users have been complaining about Comantra's activities for over 18 months, and it has taken a long time for Microsoft to take action. Comantra's website still retains the Gold Certified Partner logo, although their details have been removed from Microsoft's database of approved partners."

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about freaking time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474092)

these tards called my parents. As soon as my old man confrenced me in they dropped. What a shocker. ..

Re:about freaking time! (2)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474164)

Same here. They called me and my in-laws, claiming to be from "Microsoft Computer Support". I told them it was a federal offence to falsify caller ID information (The call came from "1-000-000-0000"). They hung up fairly quickly.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474252)

I trolled them on the 4th time they called in a week.

CS: OK, please click on START on the bottom right...
Me: I have nothing in the bottom right.
CS: Errrrr, then right-click on the status bar at the bottom of your screen...
Me: My status bar is at the top.
CS: Oh, right-click on that, then.
Me: What do you mean by right-click ?
CS: Press the right mouse button.
Me: I only have one mouse button.
CS: Then click on the status-bar.
Me: Sure, nothing happens.
CS: What version of Windows are you running ??
Me: Windows ???? Why the hell would I run a piece of crap Windows ? I haven't had a Windows box in this house for the last decade.
CS:

They called again 2 days later, and I just started screaming in the phone until they hung up. Haven't been called since.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474862)

Funny. If you ask them to name the virus supposedly serving up something, they also hang up.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

wetpainter (2271496) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475416)

I asked them to tell me which version of Windows I was using (I use a Mac) and then I would give them the access they wanted. They couldn't of course, but I did manage to keep them on the phone for nearly an hour. They said they would tell me the version as soon as I gave them remote access. I got moved up a level to a supervision who continued to stay "on script". I offered to transfer $1000 into his personal bank account immediately if he could correctly tell me the OS version. This offer got them VERY excited but they eventually gave up after the first guess was made. It still amazes me anyone could fall for this crap.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475376)

They called me and got an earful of abuse, because it was saturday morning, when I like to be asleep.

Them: "Hello sir, I am from "
Me: "Never heard of them"
Them: "We have been doing a survey and noticed that there are a large number of virus infections in your area"
Me: "So this is a scam then?"
Them: "No sir this is not a scam"
Me:"Fine, whatever, carry on"
Them: "Sir this is not a scam. We noticed you have a windows computer in your house that connects to the internet"
Me: "So you wake me up on a Saturday morning and lie to me TWICE? F*CK OFF and die you bastard scammers"
Them: "No sir this is not a scam"
Me; "I hope your whole family dies in pain, go fuck yourself" /I hang up

I may have gone a bit over the top there... but these arseholes phone people who won't realise what's going on and will fall for it. Absolute bastards.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474552)

Awhile back, I got one of these too. They told me that my "PC was serving malware and it was traced to my IP" or something like that. Since my public IP address is static, I asked them what IP address this supposed malware was coming from. They gave me a bullshit number and hung up.

Re:about freaking time! (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474874)

Mine too. Sadly my old man didn't think to conference me in to the call...

Re:about freaking time! (1)

Tolkien (664315) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475516)

Mum and I both got called as well, after I hung up on them I called mum immediately to tell her what to expect, she called back (I had to leave a message) and said they had already called, she could tell it was a scam. I taught her well. :D

Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (2)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474104)

90% of all users are idiots.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

Hitokiri Battousai (702935) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474510)

90% of all people are idiots.

FTFY

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474610)

Well OK. People, users. One in the same.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475414)

Well OK. People, users. One in the same.

But only 84% of users are people.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

JRowe47 (2459214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475008)

99.999999% of all people are idiots.

FTFY

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475146)

100 % of users are people. (?)

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (5, Funny)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475022)

90% of all users are idiots.

And the other half are no brainiacs either!

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (0)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475084)

Now that is funny! I love the math skills demonstration. Good reply, thanks for making me laugh.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (5, Insightful)

PerformanceDude (1798324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475134)

Actually, you need to take your corporate IT hat off for a second. The people who fall for this scam are typically people who didn't grow up with computers. Your mum and dad (now maybe in their sixties), who only use a computer to type the odd letter, Skype the grandkids and maybe look for old friends on Facebook. They do not have access to tech support and mostly their computers have been bought in a standard configuration with just the few things they need installed.

Those people (I can't get myself to call them users) have been told by their kids, the banks and everyone else they trust to understand computers, that viruses are a real threat and that if you get a computer virus it is really bad and awful things can happen to you (identity theft, damaged computer, having your broadbad costs skyrocket from a spam-virus using up your allowance etc.).

I know some of these people are scared to even start a web browser for any site that they have not specifically been told they can trust.

So, when one of these scam (scum) artists calls up and tells them that they have a bad virus - their immediate reaction is fear and confusion. When the scammer then offers to "fix" the problem, they gladly agree to hand over a relatively modest amount (around $150 usually) and let the scammer go ahead. Sadly, once their credit card details have been handed over, it is normally not the end of it.

How do I know all this? Because it happened to the nice old man down the street. He was almost in tears when he told me how he'd gone ahead and let the scammer take almost half his weekly pension money. It also happened to a nice elderly couple that are friends of my parents and to the man who mowes my lawn to supplement his pension. Nice, normal and not even that gullible people - just people who are not geeks.

We (the geeks) actually have a responsibility to educate those poor people rather than calling them idiots. Nothing beats a scammer better than being forewarned.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

Billlagr (931034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475176)

+1 if I had mod points. I had these a'holes contact friends, relatives (not necessarily overlapping groups there), I heard 3rd hand about these calls, they were absolutely rampant for a period of time. It is the parent, grandparents, the casual users that get stung, and often can't afford it.

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475514)

I'd mod you up if I had some points!

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (0)

qubezz (520511) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475764)

We (the geeks) actually have a responsibility to educate those poor people rather than calling them idiots. Nothing beats a scammer better than being forewarned.

Don't we more have a responsibility to find the people running these Indian companies, take out a plane ticket to Bangalore, and waterboard them in their own sewage-filled rivers? Nothing says "stop calling" like a respiratory system full of feces... Throwing pies at the CEO that outsourced the jobs didn't seem to work...

Re:Maybe the I.T. guys are right after all. (2)

black3d (1648913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475384)

That's a bit harsh. They don't have our degree of expertise, but everyones knowledge is generally specialised. "The IT Guys" are just jaded, because they've chosen a profession where they have to deal with that lack of knowledge in their specific area, on a daily basis. It's why I got out of tech support after a couple of years - I didn't like dealing with that. Meanwhile, those "IT guys" have a very limited field of expertise, and are usually unskilled at just about everything NOT computer-related. This doesn't make everybody idiots, it just states the obvious fact that everyone's knowledge is specialised. Ignore the jaded jerks. If their joy comes from irrationally insulting strangers, they're twats.

Outsourcing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474132)

That's what we get for tolerating outsourcing to foreign countries. The only people who are benefiting from outsourcing are the top 1% of society getting rich of the deal.

Re:Outsourcing (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474228)

That's what we get for tolerating outsourcing to foreign countries.

In a first thought, as a potential beneficiary of USA software development outsourcing, I would protest about your statement.

But then I remembered when we, on a previous job of my on an embedded gadgets for automobiles industry, outsourced some device drivers to a certain country, well known (now) for some not so orthodox behavior on the Software Industry.

Well, there's nothing else to say except I second that....

TIB (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474144)

TIB

Typical Indian Behaviour

I actually received one of these cold calls, they were rude, and when I told them I was on a Mac (no problem, we're calling about your OS, Windows 7) and ran linux (and that it wasn't variant of Windows 7) they hung up. But I fear that less savvy (i.e. my parents) would have been taken in by this rubbish.

Re:TIB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474246)

TIB

Typical Indian Behaviour

Wow, way to be blatantly racist, there. Good job.

Re:TIB (0)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474388)

I didn't know "Indian" was a race.

Re:TIB (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475260)

I didn't know "Indian" was a race.

It's as meaningful a racial grouping as any other.

Corollaries are left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:TIB (2, Interesting)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474380)

they were rude

Once upon a time, I had Indian teammates working with me.

They were not rude (normally), au contraire, but their verbal politeness did not, at least on English, cope with ours. We took some time to learn how to communicate each other with (what both sides agreed it was) courtesy.

I take a even worst time with Chinese teammates over MSN conferences (we could not manage to understand our English accents! :-D). Without visual assurance, we never know for sure when we're making a praise for a job well done, or making a joke on a stupid mistake we did! X-P (even worst, sometimes what we thought was a stupid mistake was a well job done not understood at first glance).

Our texts, sometimes, were padded with "(this is a joke)" or "(this is a praise)". I remember at least one "(I still deciding if this is a joke or not)", but I don't remember who shoot that...

Looking in distance, it was hilarious. But at that time, not so much... :-)

Re:TIB (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474400)

where I wrote "I take", please read "I took".

(yes, English is not my mother language... Sorry...)

Sophos is a security firm? (3, Interesting)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474160)

Seriously, they should start thinking about changing business after this [cmpxchg8b.com] .

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (0)

MichaelKristopeit350 (1968134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474172)

WARNING: virus in pdf

i am approved by microsoft to cleanse the infection. send cash.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474210)

This paper is freakin hilarious. Wonder why it didn't make it to /., yet.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474240)

Ur mum's face is virus.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (1)

MichaelKristopeit351 (1968158) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474292)

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474336)

Yeah, you're so awesome. Fucktard.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (0)

MichaelKristopeit353 (1968162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475076)

ur mum's face is fucktard.

why do you cower in my shadow? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (1, Funny)

Tolkien (664315) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475542)

Question: How are we all the pathetic ones when you have to resort to creating zillions of accounts in order to get any visibility because your karma is always burned into oblivion?

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (0)

MichaelKristopeit355 (1968164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475604)

who is "we"?

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474480)

Ur pathetic shadow feebs ur mum's face! Cower! Shadow! mum! face! Cum! Feeb, cower!

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (0)

MichaelKristopeit355 (1968164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475082)

you're an idiot.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474458)

Please mod parent as "Funny".

That was a joke!

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474194)

Nice try. I don't know what that link is, but I'm not clicking it.

Re:Sophos is a security firm? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475390)

Interesting paper, worth reading. Thanks.

Windows Errors (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474180)

Maybe Windows shouldn't have so many errors (even after a clean install).

Re:Windows Errors (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474516)

It's not windows' fault this time.

Check /var/log/syslog - you'll find a similar bunch of arcane "errors" that look disturbing to a typical clueless user.

Re:Windows Errors (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474624)

Actually no its not, I am looking at a fresh install of Slackware 13.37 on VM right now. There is certainly some stuff there about my harddisk cache being assumed to be write through and the fact that my file systems were mounted; but nothing says "error", except

kernel: [51032.320044] usb 5-1: device not accepting address 9, error -71

Which I seems to have happened shortly after I tried to pass through a USB mouse to the VM, and given udev did not seem to do anything, I think that its probably um an actual error.

Windows on the other hand has tons events it logs as well, which I think good, its often very useful. Some have non-threatening grey question marks by them and "information" written in the column, others say "Warning" and have a yellow triangle, which give one a bit more cause for concern, and then there are these ones with the red X of which there many, even on a fairly fresh Win7 install, most of them I understand and have decided to ignore but I can see how someone who does not know much about Windows or the other software they might have on there system would be worried.

Re:Windows Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474638)

red X of which there many, even on a fairly fresh Win7 install

Citation please. Installing hundreds of Windows 7 instances, this has not been my experience.

taking fake antivirus to the next level next time (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474188)

taking fake antivirus to the next level next time just say you work for best buy / a 3th party for the geek squad.

Thank you finally... (1)

mattbode (827019) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474212)

This has been happening a lot in Australia. Now I can stop giving tech-support for my freaked out relatives after they were scammed.

This is News to Them? (2)

segedunum (883035) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474214)

I've had countless calls from various companies based in India saying they're calling on behalf of Microsoft who have detected a virus on one of my computers and are offering to 'clean' it up. I don't even say anything now. The phone gets put straight down. It's been getting steadily worse these past few months.

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474356)

My 80 year old mother has had 4 or 5 of these calls now. The first one scared the wits out of her, but luckily she didn't give them any access or credit card data.

Now that she knows the scam she just screams at them.

If I ever get one I'm going to try the "see how long you can keep them on the line" ploy.

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474810)

Nope, you go the other way, see how much personal information you can find out about your caller. It can get fun, I even found out the colour of the guys underwear one time (had him check for me as he couldn't remember at the time).

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475248)

They tried that with my mom, but apparently "mom logic" threw them so much they just sat there thinking about it for half a minute before saying a quick "thank you" and hanging up. When they said she had a bug mom told them "Oh I don't worry about such things, that is what having a geek son is for, along with paying for take out and driving me to the library". I guess that just didn't compute for them because she said they were just stunned for nearly a minute before giving up.

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474372)

Hmm. I am glad I don't answer my home phone. I guess if these guys call me, they don't leave a message. Are they calling you even if you are on the do not call list? (Or, if you aren't in the USA, whatever the similar list of "no soliciting" phone numbers is called where you are)?

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475002)

Hmm. I am glad I don't answer my home phone. I guess if these guys call me, they don't leave a message. Are they calling you even if you are on the do not call list? (Or, if you aren't in the USA, whatever the similar list of "no soliciting" phone numbers is called where you are)?

Yes they're calling in Ontario despite being on the registry. They'll hang up pretty quick the second you mention '$10k fine', 'scam' or 'police'.

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474396)

I prefer to engage them a little, "yes I have a PC, yes it does seem be slow" then tell then to hang on a second and put the leave the phone. Longest one stayed waiting was 7 minutes. 7 minutes of international phone call, where they are not trying to scam someone else, and a new operator phones the next day to repeat the process.

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475272)

I think they probably use some sort of cheap VoIP system so that kind of tactic it's won't likely waste anything but their time. Not saying it's a bad thing though :P

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474590)

Over the months, I have had dozens of these calls. Seriously, I think in June, they would have called my landline more than anyone else.

First when they called they said they were calling from "Windows operating system" and that I had an error on my computer.

  Letting them know I didn't use windows, they wouldn't take no for an answer.

Telling them they were not going to catch me with their scam and that there is no company called "Windows Operating system"
and besides, I do not have a windows device in my house did not count.

The conversation went downhill. I was accused at being a smug Apple user that did not like Micorsoft (halfright - linux user) but when letting her know I did not use Apple she again assumed I must be on windows and was wondering why I was hampering her efforts at trying to help me.

At one stage she yelled at me for not listening, I yelled back at her for being the thick one not listening.

It is from there that she angrilly told me I was wasting her time and hung up on me.

Most other calls, I just hung up - or told them to go away, and that they weren't going to get me with their scam although there were a few that I let continue for a few minutes. And always the same.

One time they called me:

"Hello I am from....."
"Oh not again, Will you stop calling here with your scam"
"So you have been called before - well why wont you check the computer?"
"Because I know enough not to fall for it"
" For what?"
"You are tyring to get my information and money"
"Who told you that? We are trying to call to help you with problems that have been reported to us on your windows computer"
"Which computer? I don't use windows"
"You are Mac?"
"No"
"Well then you are windows and that is the computer"

The people doing the calling, always female, always persistant. I sometime wondered if they even knew that they were a part of a scam given their dilligence in tying to "get" me and their inability to quickly recognise when their attempts were going to be friutless

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475038)

What happens if you tell them "I don't have a computer?" That would have been amusing.

Re:What to say when they ask if you have a PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475408)

I have had lots of these and last time I said I didn't have a PC, then they asked if I had a smart phone, so I said no, then they asked if I had a smart TV, again I said no. but I did add helpfully that I had a calculator... they hung up

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475844)

What happens if you tell them "I don't have a computer?" That would have been amusing.
They proceed as if you did.
They get stumped when you mention your public IP starts with 2001::.
They say your Windows computer is infected and when the caller gets stumped when you can't find your "Start menu" because you're running OSX, they act like they knew all along and abuse you when you point out the simple fact that they said "your Windows PC is infected" when you don't have one.
There's quite a lot at this Whirlpool thread [whirlpool.net.au]

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475060)

If I'm not busy, I make it into a game to drag it out as long as possible.

One woman seemed genuinely upset when I called her a liar and a thief, which makes me wonder if some of the front-line callers really think they are working for Microsoft (similar to the fake Apple store employees).

Re:This is News to Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474834)

Really? I keep them on the line as long as possible. My record is 52 minutes, after being passed through 5 different people.

It's amazing how gullible they are. "Oh no, my computer has crashed and has started rebooting again."

I also like to break into Abe Simpson style stories - "Please sir, will you shut up!"

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

5hoom (937675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474888)

I must have got the new guy when they called me. The caller claimed to be "from Windows" and wanted to fix my PC blah blah. I asked him again who he represented, and again he said he was "from Windows". Oh dear. Hanging up now.

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

marxzed (1075971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475020)

This company (and I guess others operating the same scam) are one reason I now have an unlisted phone number. Obviously I don't fall for the crap (and apart from one rarely running XP virtual machine I only use Unix/Linux machines at home) but despite repetedly telling them I have no Windows computer the volume of calls went from beyond annoying to the point of rendering the telephone worthless as some nights and weekends I would receive between 2 to 4 calls an hour (yes an hour) from these callers.
New unlisted number, instant peace and quiet on a Sunday morning
Sadly going to my parents recently to help with gardening on a Sunday and answering multiple calls from these scammers over a four hour period confirms that they had not crawled in to hole and died just hadn't been able to call my new number. My parents are in their 90's and, while my father was one of the states earliest personal computer users and helped introduce early, pre Microsoft, PC's in to the education system, he's not even turned on any of his antique BBC Acorn/Amega/Atari/Apple II in at least a decade let alone ever owned a Windows computer.

Re:This is News to Them? (1)

prehistoricman5 (1539099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475294)

I got one of these calls once. I started ranting about how they were perpetrating a scam et cetera and then hung up. That was the last time they ever called. I only wish I had the presence of mind to play along in order to extract information out of the person on the other end.

Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474244)

I've been dealing with customers calling my IT dept all week asking if it was us. Maybe now our calls will chill a bit

Unbelievable M$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474328)

My partner and a number of my family and friends have all had this exact call, even I did. When I received the call I played dumb a$$ and let them play around for a while whilst I learnt their scripting behaviour. It wasn't until they tried getting me to go through logmein rescue that I called their bluff and let them have it.

The thing I don't get is how logmein can allow this kind of activity to continue. Ultimately it is an easy and seemingly legitimate way for a remote user to get 'support'. I think logmein should be held equally as accountable for providing a black market interface as should be Microsoft for letting this go on for a long time.

In my 'support' call it was going to cost me $275 to finalize with the 'technician' the removal of any malware. Can you imagine a call center teeming with paki's or curries with no conscionable objections to their actions being task mastered into this and the total figures this would have amounted to over 18months?

Shame on you Microsoft! Shame shame shame.

A new low has been reached I'm affraid, and Balmer that tool wont acknowledge this I am sure...

These guys phoned me a few weeks ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474398)

Basically it was some girl who sounded foreign with bad english but obviously trained in a few complicated sounding sentences... she said she was calling from "Microsoft" and that there had "been complaints in my neighbourhood" regarding some new kind of super virus. I told her to F off and hung up. She kept repeating every now and then "Sir is your computer on?" "Sir please turn on your computer" ETC so she could check that if I'd been infected by this new kind of super virus.

I'm sure they earned some money with this but you'd have to be rather demented to fall for it because this isn't exactly an english professor calling and it's not quite clear what to think/do when there have been "complaints in your neighbourhood" even if you're normally the person who falls for scams, it'd be harder if you cant understand how your supposed to get scammed.

Also the VOIP call on her end wasn't great, some of that maybe she didn't callibrate her $2 china microphone properly.

Microsoft is a Scam (-1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474422)

Isn't anything related to Microsoft a scam?

Re:Microsoft is a Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474920)

No. It might be cute to think so, but the answer is "no."

Hahahha (2)

Triklyn (2455072) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474438)

If you follow a link in the article to the original report, you'll find tons of comments about the domain names and the scam... and a few gems interspersed about the companies being so legit and helpful, in pretty broken english, by incredibly generic usernames. Those are some seriously hardcore scammers.

Re:Hahahha (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475460)

Thanks for that, man. It's really impressive and very funny. It makes the copmuter fast and yuo get free things to b e hppy :P:

"This is Rex and i would like to inform you that i m happy with the tech support service and the most important thing is that i will get unlimited services for the upcoming one year free of charge whenever i want in my computer and i m extremly happy.

Fraud (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474444)

If it is documented that they routinely defrauded people for money, why are they not in jail?

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474488)

Jurisdiction.

Re:Fraud (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474592)

Say it ain't so! Can't Obama just make a phone call and have the Indians extradited to America?

Re:Fraud (0)

Billlagr (931034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475288)

What is this "extradited" of which you speak? I thought that Obama just sent covert SEAL teams in by helicopter to deal with this kind of behaviour.

Re:Fraud (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474604)

"If it is documented that they routinely defrauded people for money, why are they not in jail?"

Jurisdiction.

. . . and bribes.

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475366)

because they're in a another country and we have to wait for that country to take take action. It also requires enough people complaining about it.

These guys (and I'm sure there is way more than one company using this practice) ring up try to sound it like they are calling on behalf of microsoft who has told them that there is spyware on my PC. I've been rung 6 times and my friend 4 times. They don't like it when they've been kept on the line and the told the phone call is being traced, being told about the ins and outs of the australian telecommunications laws requires caller ID and information as to where phone numbers are harvested, being told you don't have windows/how they got the information that your computer is infected. And best of all, they REALLY hate it when you do things like pretending you are a dumb lackey in a room of secured windows/linux boxen:
"Can you go to the computer sir?"
"Which one?"
"It doesn't matter which one."
"Well I've got 10 here. Wouldn't it be better to fix the broken one?
"We'll get to that in a minute sir"

"can you click on the start menu please sir"
"Start menu?"
"Can you see the word start or a little orb in the corner of the screen?
"No"
"You can't see the word start or an orb in any corner of the screen?"
"No"
"Ok, we'll try a different method. Can you see a key with a flag on it? Now hold the key down with the little flag and press 'r'"
"OK.... now what?"
"Can you see a little window with the word "run" written on it?"
"No"
"What happened when you pressed the buttons, sir"
"Nothing"
"What do mean 'nothing happened'?"
"Nothing happened. I don't know how I can explain 'nothing happened' in further details other than: NOTHING HAPPENED" (I never said my pc had windows -
and so on and so on. There is so much fun you can do to try and drag this out. It's fun beingable to mentally do this, and know the resposes from each OS when things are pressed - they ASSUME you are using windows, that it isn't secured, and have to according to fit their script since it says they are calling from microsoft. The above call lasted about 45 minutes and ended with they guy getting three other people and then yelling at me that I was wasting his time and not being cooperative. I put back to him that he was wasting MY time, calling me with tall tales about phantom problems with my PC that they can't even work out the buttons for :P

Re:Fraud (1)

kiore (734594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475804)

Because they are in one country and try and defraud people in a second country.

To put them in jail it would be necessary for the police in the target country to do a lot of paperwork and liaise with the police in the source country.

As each crime is only for a couple of hundred dollars each time the police probably can't be bothered with making the effort.

Thank you Microsoft (1)

Pirow (777891) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474454)

I'm hoping this bad publicity puts Comantra out of business, but they'll most likely just disappear and pop up under a different name.

My family members have had calls from a few of these companies and my 84 year old grandpa was recently scammed out of around £85 and had his computer filled with their malware which really pissed me off, he'd just bought a license key for MS Office then a few days later got a call from "Microsoft Windows help desk" or similar saying they've detected a virus on his computer, blah, blah, blah, install our software, pay us money and you'll be fine.

We really need somebody to go after the people who actually process the payments, if the scammers could only accept payment through western union or bit coins it would trigger a lot more alarm bells in their victims heads. Given the right circumstances even intelligent people who are just a little naive can be taken in by these scammers.

Re:Thank you Microsoft (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475324)

This isn't directed at you personally or your grampa... but I'm always wondering... "why Windows?" and then reading your post I realize "oh, Office..." but then I'm left thinking "why Office?"

It really is 2011, and we really do have 31 flavors of OS to suit every need, and even though I'd estimate at least 75%-85% of all computer users have only the "need" for something along the lines of a simplistic Chrome-like OS, we (as consumers and IT afficionados alike) still shoehorn in that Swiss army knife monstrosity that Windows truely is into their worlds... sapping away the precious moments of life 100K proc cycles at a time. What is wrong with us that we allow such a thing as someone asking for pencil and paper and a simple, safe letter opener and receiving instead something as complex as a miniaturized Heidelberg offset press and a jaggy 5-pound Victorinox abomination?

Re:Thank you Microsoft (3, Interesting)

black3d (1648913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475506)

Okay, but extend that "need" into "want", and suddenly you'll find most PC gamers can't manage at all with a simplistic Chrome-like OS. If you exclude "business" users from your percentage, you'll find your target audience for a simple idiot-proof OS on home PCs dwindles significantly. Sure, they're still out there. And I wholly support giving grandma Ubuntu (or even something simplier), Firefox and Thunderbird, and letting her have at it! She doesn't need to do anything else, so anything else is just bloat. But it's not 75-80% of the home user market that applies to. I doubt it's even 50%. This is why Windows is still going strong (well, that, and the fact that it comes pre-installed on most PCs).

Most folks I know don't buy pre-made PCs, but get friends to price up and build them for them. They're "more power" machines, not "email and messenger" machines. Sure, there's still a market for K.I.S.S, but as each successive generation gets more tech-clued, folks want more options, not less. As the tablet-OS-on-desktops is beginning to take off, we may see this plateau and diverge into two markets - but I don't think you'll find the simple OS market anywhere near as high as 80% for home users - at least not for their primary PC. "Entertainment centers", sure.

So in the camp of folks who do want a more powerful, diverse OS, why WIndows instead of Linux? Linux isn't ready yet. It's at an ideal point as a Simple OS - see Grandma example above. But it's by no means ready as a replacement for Windows for the folks who want to use the additional functionality, but don't want to have to learn how to tinker with the OS. Thesedays, one should never have to see a command prompt to do ANYTHING, in normal usage. Retaining a command prompt for common usage is holding back the Linux desktop from widespread adoptance. There are too many common, complex functions in Linux, which are simple in Windows.

Agreed - there's far too much to Windows. But disagree that that fact has virtually any impact on the user. There's no aspect of the interface or interactions I have with the Windows OS that are any faster in Linux. When I finish this text and hit Preview, it won't happen faster in Linux. When I then close the browser and switch across to my Steam window, it wouldn't happen any faster in Linux. There's no distinguishable speed differential on modern-day 64-bit, 8-core PCs.

Re:Thank you Microsoft (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475572)

I believe you overestimate what most are doing with their desktop, even many of those in the office, but definately not gamers, and not developers. One must look at the application. I think you, sir. would be surprised looking at a list of all the applications you yourself used in, say, the last 2 weeks. and how much time spent with each. No doubt, even some power users might only have a list of a half dozen applications used. If the list is shorter, say 2 or 3 applications, then the user doesn't need a Windows license, or even a full desktop computer. IMHO most, yes most (and I think 75%-85% was extremely conservative) of ALL computer users (not most gamers or most office workers or whatever, but of all) fit into that category of only having used 2 or 3 applications in the last 2 weeks, if not a single application (which is of course the esteemed and venerable browser, often confused with "The Internet").

Format + Reinstall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474534)

I am a computer tech in Alberta and many customers have come in describing this scam. Its been going on for months. Does anyone know if their computers are somehow compromised permanently? Is a format and re-install an appropriate response to someone who has been duped by this scam?

Re:Format + Reinstall? (1)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475486)

That's what I did for my dad (and upgraded him from XP to 7 at the same time) when he fell for the scam a while back. Luckily he wasn't out any money because the company's accounts got shut down before his payment was processed.

Even if it wasn't necessary it certainly drove home the "Never listen to cold callers" lesson when he had his work laptop offline for a couple of days.

that explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474558)

ah! so those were the vulgar assholes that kept calling! Dumping was too easy, whole lot of them should have been hung.

A Scam Like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475114)

...collecting money from companies running Linux?

It's all in the i (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475254)

"After spending two hours trying to solve a print problem, I remember co-mantra and with the repeat very patient and competent help, i can now relax. Many thanks co-mantra, I have a felling that it was a good day when i joined your organization."

Yeah, that's about the gist of all the comments on their website. They are all from English sounding names (James Wood) that use constructs nobody would use.

"...repeat very patient and competent help..." yeah, rinse and repeat.
"...felling..." I've got a feeling it's a scam alright
"...i joined your organization..." just to get help support, goodness me, all that traveling

And then you start looking, and find out that nobody of the "commenters" uses uppercase "I" except at the start of sentences. Hmm, might I suggest that all this was written by the same person?

The main reason this scam works. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475284)

Most computer users aren't geeks, and they don't know how to tell if their computer's infected or not. What they do know, however, is that every single version of Microsoft Windows is full of security holes and that there are millions of viruses, trojans and other malware out there looking for computers to infect. If that weren't true, if Microsoft would clean up its act and put out an operating system that was designed from the bottom up to be secure this type of scam would be impossible.

Similar scams (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475304)

This is similar to the car warranty call scams of a couple of years ago. "Hello, your car warranty is about to expire, blah blah blah."
The scammers do not care that you are on whatever DNC registry exists in your country. They call anyway, using false phone numbers. And call multiple times a week.

I used to make a game of it, seeing how long I could keep them on the line.
My best was 30 minutes, ending with "You do realize that the only reason I am talking to you is to keep you from bothering some other person at dinnertime, and that you will never, ever get a dime out of me."

Credit Card (1)

Billlagr (931034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475314)

Serious question - if the payments are made by CC, can't you just go to your CC provider, dispute it as fraudulent, and have it charged back? Or are the CC providers of the 'you consented, tough luck sucker' mindset?

The two I talked to apparently couldn't hang up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475438)

Normally telescammers will drop the call as soon as it's obvious you won't bite. Neither of these guys did. I berated one for a whole 5 minutes (calling him a scammer, asking him why he was still on the line, etc.) before he dropped me, with him trying the whole time to convince me he was legit. The other guy stayed on while I joked around, pretended on-and-off to be paying attention to him, and again told him I knew he was a scammer. Either they're not allowed to hang up, or they're very very optimistic.

Re:The two I talked to apparently couldn't hang up (1)

Introspective (71476) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475546)

Then again, it's possible that the minimum wage staff in their call centre honestly believe that the script they're following is legit.
From the calls I've got myself and the ones reported by others, it really sounds like the callers truly believe what they're saying and don't know much better.

Mother-in-law actually got one of these calls (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475648)

Holy Mackerel. My mother-in-law actually got one of these calls. She said someone with a nearly unintelligable accent had called saying he was from her ISP and he could see that her computer had a dangerous infection.

Now, mother-in-law is one of the most internet-savvy non-geeks I have ever met. Her first response was "how? the computer is turned off." He babbled something about how they could still tell and insisted she turn it on right now and follow his instructions very carefully. She said he was very excited and talked very forcefully and urgently.

She told him no, she didn't think that was necessary, her son-in-law does all her administration and she was pretty sure her computer was safe. He abruptly hung up. She immediately called me and told me about it. I asked her to boot up, logged in remotely, poked around and started a virus scan. Nothing. Obvious scam.

they contacted me and my sister (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475744)

I got one of these calls, as soon as he mentioned where he was from (he said Microsoft), I told him that I was more qualified than he was and he hung up on me. Next day my sister got the same call, and she actually started following their instructions and whenever she got annoyed they would change operators. They got into her PC and started getting her to fill in personal details, they were already had remote desktop, they just needed her to fill in the blanks, which she was uncomfortable with (and SMS'd me at the same time). I rang her quickly and told her to unplug it from the wall and power off the machine ASAP, and tell them where to go (not a nice place of course). This company continued to harass her with calls trying to finish what they started. They got her to install a program called "AMMYY". I did my best to disinfect her PC, but am still worried they might have got something passed me.

For all the non-tech savvies out there, do what I've trained my mother to do; tell them her spouse or child is a computer technician and will be home shortly to sort it out. They don't ring back. Call their bluff even if they know your name, this is easy to get now-days. It's a pretty safe bet for them to ring a number at random and find someone that has windows on their pc.

Drag the call out (1)

Nuisance (153513) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475800)

I like these calls. If it comes in an evening and I have nothing to do I try and drag them out for as long as possible. The enjoyment hearing the reaction of the person at the other end when you finally tell them you work in IT, know it is a scam and that you were dragging the call out so that they had less time to call other people is priceless. Think the longest was a bit over an hour before I got bored with it.

Trust (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475856)

I've told all my friends and family NEVER trust a cold caller with an indian accent. I know it sounds racist, but so far all of the calls that I've ever received that have been trying to scam me in some way have always had an indian accent.

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