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When Antivirus Scammers Call the Wrong Guy

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the human-engineering-with-phony-humans dept.

Crime 473

ancientribe writes "Phony AV scammers posing as Microsoft dialed the wrong number when they inadvertently phoned a security researcher at home. He lured them into a honeypot to study their actions, and posted the video online here. His main takeaway: they were 'Stone Age' when it came to their tech know-how."

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Sounds familiar (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104017)

His main takeaway: they were 'Stone Age' when it came to their tech know-how."

So they're exactly like Norton, McAfee, and CA?

Re:Sounds familiar (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104257)

His main takeaway: they were 'Stone Age' when it came to their tech know-how."

So they're exactly like Norton, McAfee, and CA?

How did this get modded 'Funny?'

That shit ain't funny, it's fucking Insightful.

Re:Sounds familiar (5, Informative)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104549)

His main takeaway: they were 'Stone Age' when it came to their tech know-how."

So they're exactly like Norton, McAfee, and CA?

How did this get modded 'Funny?' That shit ain't funny, it's fucking Insightful.

How did this get modded 'Insightful'?

The GP was insightful. This shit ain't insightful, it's fucking Funny.

[Hint: to break the chain, mod this 'Informative'.]

Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104059)

I got a similar call to the guy in the article. So I hung up.

They called back, and I hung up again except the phone didn't hang up. I even held down the "on hook" button but the call would not terminate. Any ideas how the scammers accomplished this?

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Funny)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104083)

In your rage you slammed down the receiver too hard and now the "on hook" button isn't registering correctly?

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104151)

Um. No. My phone works just fine. I also disconnected the line which should have terminated the call immediate, but the scammer was still talking when I reconnected the line. (I figure they were using some override built into the POTS.)

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104203)

Mom! Hang up the phone!

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104209)

It can also be a part of your phone service features. If you have call waiting or call transfer for example, it can prevent you from disconnecting the caller.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104275)

Um. No. My phone works just fine. I also disconnected the line which should have terminated the call immediate, but the scammer was still talking when I reconnected the line. (I figure they were using some override built into the POTS.)

...Which is precisely why man invented the airhorn.

Next time those bastards grab your line and won't let go, give them a really, really fucking loud reason to.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104641)

...Which is precisely why man invented the airhorn. Next time those bastards grab your line and won't let go, give them a really, really fucking loud reason to.

*In order for ploy to work, caller must be phoning from air horn.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104843)

Not to mention the problem that the airhorn will be much louder in person.

Just wire something into the line, which, at the press of a button, will generate a very loud and high pitched noise. Just remove your own ear from your phone first.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Funny)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104883)

I used to use a modem for that back in the dial-up days; when I wanted to go on-line but someone in the house was using the phone I sent a message to the modem via the terminal and it started screaching bloody murder.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104725)

They didn't use any trick. That's how a landline works. It takes a while to register that you hang up, especially if the other person is still talking.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104091)

the call is coming from inside the house!

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104163)

THEN WHO WAS PHONE?

so BAD even YOUR MOM won't fall for this (3, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104341)

These "Dave from Houston" fuckheads have called my house repeatedly. Unfortunately, I haven't been home to screw with them. Even my wife felt bad for these pitiful lamebrains when she told them none of our computers run Windows. And then these disorganized half-wits can't remember the FAILED on their previous calls, so they call back again.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104123)

Cell phone?

VoIP phone?

Landline phone?

The specific answer is different in each case. The general answer is a signalling failure in the phone switch - it was a glitch not an attack on your phone line.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104159)

On some phone systems (for example Luxembourg during the eighties), only the caller can hang up a line. If the callee "hangs up" it's not really hung up until the caller hangs up as well, and a malicious caller can tie up his victim's line as long as he wants.

Normally this is not an issue, as in a normal call both parties will hang up. However, back in the day, pranksters figured out that this was an excellent way of annoying call-in amateur ("pirate") radio stations, completely sabotaging their game shows this way...

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (5, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104613)

On some phone systems (for example Luxembourg during the eighties), only the caller can hang up a line.

cpu6502, do you remember if you were in Luxembourg in the eighties when this happened?

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104145)

I'll use logmein to fix your phone issue.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104165)

I had a similar call about a month ago. My wife answered it and then hung up. I wish she would have handed the phone to me. I would have had a field day, acting stupid, and getting as much info as I could so that I could return their "favor".

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104583)

Wow, they are still at this. I did get to mess with one and tied him up for about 20 minutes. I had my netbook running Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I played along to see how long it would take for them to figure out I wasn't running windows. They didn't start trying to get me to look for Windows error messages. They started by trying to get me to go to a site for Remote Desktop Management so they could see my PC. I played along and got to the download. They wanted me to open it since I said I could not run it. I opened it with archive manager and told them of the other Exe in the exe archive. They wanted me to run that too. Again, I could not run it. Then they tried to get me to check for Windows error messages. Along this path they finally asked what version of Windows I was running. After I told them, they made a quick appology (surpried me) and they hung up. The caller ID was faked.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104913)

I spent nearly 15 minutes on the line to one guy who tried to talk me through pressing the Windows button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

I didn't even have to lie; I repeatedly told him I was running Linux, so I didn't have a Windows button. He thought I was an idiot, kept on trying to explain how to bring up the Windows control panel so that I could see the "error messages". Eventually in frustration he put on his supervisor, who after learning I ran Linux, apologized and quickly hung up on me.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

kammat (114899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104169)

Most landlines won't disconnect until the sender hangs up. I learned this beauty last election cycle when robocampaigns would call and *not*fucking*drop*the*line* after I hung up right away. Two minutes later I picked back up and they were still going.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104283)

No mine (Bell Atlantic) doesn't work that way. I hang-up on telemarketers all the time, and they disappear. This one was the sole exception which is why it's stuck in my mind a year later.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104693)

Why would the telemarketers bother hanging on the line? If you hang up on them, they'll hang up their end and move on to the next number.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104183)

Called from a landline? Landline calls won't terminate until the originating caller hangs up.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104191)

In Australia, at least it used to be that the callee could hang up the phone and as long as the caller didn't hang up the line would stay connected for several minutes.
So I could hang up and then pick up the phone after a minute and the caller would still be there.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104265)

pretty normal and quite convenient, it means you can hang up and go pick up another phone if you need to

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104307)

Yes, it allows the called party to hang up and move to perhaps a more convinient second line. I recall Telstra have this set to 60 or 90 seconds before the call gets terminated if the called party doesn't pick up again. It's one of those exchange behaviours you don't find is carried across onto VoIP system.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104595)

VoIP can usually transfer much more fluidly anyway. On my Gigaset phones I'm pretty sure I can transfer it to another handset with a key combo and it will ring the other phone.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (5, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104285)

Well... There used to be a slight delay (like 10 seconds) between the "on hook" (current stops flowing in the loop) and the processing of the "on Hook" condition by the switch. This was to avoid disconnecting calls for momentary current breaks such as when you where dialing a rotary phone or if the user was doing a hook "flash" to switch between parties in a 3-way call. In some cases this delay has been emulated by recent phone system designs for compatibility reasons or simply because that's the way things used to work and the spec still calls for it. These days, I don't think there are many land line phones doing rotary dial and processing flash hook signals, at least in the industrialized world.

This feature was what caused the "Telemarketers have total control of my phone when they call and I can't hang up on them!" rumor from yesteryear. I'm betting that this was the reason you couldn't hang up on them. Next time hang up and wait about 20 seconds and I'll bet you will get a dial tone when you pick up.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104437)

Mod parent up, this is the correct explanation.

One note to add: robo-dialers are supposed to be programmed to disconnect immediately when the receiving end hangs up (without waiting the 10 seconds for the switch to drop the call). This is because people who have an emergency while their phone is ringing can't call 911 (too much panic to hang up and wait 10 seconds).

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (4, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104635)

I think a dialer would have no way to know that the called party was trying to hang up until the local switch processed the "on hook" (hang up) event. Looking at the SS7 ISUP signaling, there is nothing that would carry that information back to the caller that indicated a hook flash once the call was Answered.

As I recall the one commercial dialer I worked on years ago, we did listen for modem tones, but would pass any answered calls to the operators for processing. We could also hear the "Beep" from most answering machines and deal with that by calling back later, but it was hit/miss at best. We could also listen for silence, and only transfer calls that somebody said "hello" (actually anything else) to operators, but we would hang up on silence after a few seconds, not on a called party hook flash. All this was done to reduce the Long Distance charges and not pass bad calls to operators that where paid by the hour. The motive was $$ not because the called party might need to make a 911 call.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (1)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104427)

I use one of these [electronicsusa.com] . It's been working well for me for about 5 years now. It gives them a message more polite than I would and then hangs up.

I don't work for them or anything, I'm sure you could hack together a similar device, but the dumb thing just works. Only drawback is you need to be at the phone where you plugged it in, or buy one for each phone.

Re:Question- How did scammers do this? (2)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104579)

I'm not a Pheaker, but as I understand it, there is a way to reverse the roles of the caller and the callee. It's useful for the 911 and the police as they can maintain the connection long enough to preform a trace.

Bummer is, it works (5, Insightful)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104079)

Scammers (and spammers) wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.

Even though these guys were idiots, they still manage to scam people. So what does that say about their victims? Ugh.

Re:Bummer is, it works (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104225)

I'd suspect comparative advantage in action: These were phone scammers. The techie scammers are out there dumping drive-by downloads and building attack toolkits for sale. The less technical ones are falling back on their people skills and doing social engineering attacks...

Re:Bummer is, it works (-1, Redundant)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104421)

Scammers (and spammers) wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.

I don't think that's true. Let's try it on some other examples.

Serial killers wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.
Lotto customers wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.
Beggars wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.
Antivax zealots wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.
Snake charmers wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.
Traditional chinese medicine believers wouldn't wouldn't eat those endangered animal penises if it didn't pay off.
Slashdot first poster trolls wouldn't do this stuff if it didn't pay off.

Deplorable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104131)

They should look for Mac Users

Re:Deplorable (2, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104505)

Right, like the script kitties could tell they where dealing with a Mac much less have a workable scam for Mac they could talk the hapless Apple user though over the phone. If it ain't windows, they ain't getting anywhere cause they usually only know windows.

Before my ISP started blocking port 80,I ran an Apache web server on a stand alone Linux box in my DMZ that had nothing but a single HTML page on it. 99.99% of the access logs where exploits that only worked on Windows products and multiple break in attempts where from the same IP over and over. If they where too ignorant to look at the server type before they tried to break in, or if they somehow figured that what didn't work 15 seconds ago might work this time then it sure fits the view that they are pretty unsophisticated in their approaches when they are trying to break in.

Just running an OS other than Windows offers significant protection from the bulk of web based attacks. Not that it makes breaking in any harder mind you, it's just that most of the "hackers" out there don't know the difference between Red Hat, Ubuntu or Windows and usually cannot even understand what an IP address is much less a TCP port because they just run the tool somebody else wrote for them. These folks don't scare me.

Of course there are a FEW folks who don't fall into what I call "Script Kitties" class, and they are really the dangerous ones because they understand that it is not the breaking in, but the exploitation of getting access that matters. Most of these guys/gals are not going to call you on your phone unless they have reason to target you, and you can bet they won't resort to such low tech methods described in this article.

Re:Deplorable (4, Funny)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104909)

Right, like the script kitties could tell they where dealing with a Mac...

I just had this adorable image in my head of a bunch of kittens (picture Royale commercials) gamboling around an iMac, batting the mouse around, laying on the top of the monitor and pawing at the screen, puzzled innocence in their wide blue eyes as they try to figure out where the food comes out. Awww... :)

I think the term is actually 'script kiddies', due to the (usual) youth of the wanna-be bad asses. It's simply the difference between the voiced alveolar stop [wikipedia.org] 'd' and the voiceless alveolar stop [wikipedia.org] 't', so it's easy to misinterpret in speech.

Okay, phonetics info-break over, now back to your regularly scheduled discussion...

Can you blame them? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104149)

Where are the calls coming from? Probably India or some impoverished nation. Some of the people working in those call centers really need the $2.00 a day that they make so that they can feed their family.

I'd do some shady shit too if I had to in order to survive and so would you. So don't judge too harshly and don't yell or belittle the guy on the phone. Don't hate the player, hate the game...

Re:Can you blame them? (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104215)

Don't hate the player, hate the game...

No. I hate both.

Re:Can you blame them? (3)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104233)

Your 'peak hatred' attitude is disguistingly defeatist.

Hate player, the game, the phrase 'don't hate the player, hate the game' and anybody who uses that phrase. And you'll still have plenty to go around!

Re:Can you blame them? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104401)

Hate player, the game, the phrase 'don't hate the player, hate the game' and anybody who uses that phrase. And you'll still have plenty to go around!

I HATE you .
Actually, I couldn't care less . At least you're not cpu6502.


oh, and these nimrods somehow show up as 00000000000 on the caller ID when they call. Is that due to their homemade voip solution?

Re:Can you blame them? (2)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104301)

Where are the calls coming from? Probably India or some impoverished nation.

Yes, from India. I've had them on the line more than a few times, and even strung them along in a VirtualBox session once, too. Except that I stopped it when they asked for actual money and explained to them that everything they said was a lie, starting with their names. They hung up that time. Another time I simply asked them why they liked scamming people, and the guy yelled at me as if to be offended by this. That was entertaining - knowing that I knew more about what they were talking about than they did, he wasn't going to be able to browbeat me into agreeing he actually was with Microsoft.

Any way, the accent can't be missed. It has been thick every time. Of course, in this day and age, the accent alone doesn't mean it's not Microsoft :-(

Re:Can you blame them? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104337)

"Where are the calls coming from? "

Voip service probably one of the several thousand of half Voip services that have POP lines in the USA. Hell you can do this with Skype.

If they were true hackers, they would compromise a company phone system and then dial in and then back out to completely hide their location. but very few hackers are actually hackers anymore.

Re:Can you blame them? (2)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104687)

Ah the good old days when hacking meant connecting stepper motor to an Etch-a-sketch to use with the computer they had just finished wire-wrapping last week.

Re:Can you blame them? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104345)

Oh Bo-Ho! Let's all live a life human predation?

Re:Can you blame them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104385)

Bo-Ho? Is that Little Bo-Peep's brother or maybe her whorish sister?

Re:Can you blame them? (5, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104361)

Damn straight I can blame them.

You don't see me trying to scam Bill Gates or some other bullshit.

If you are at the level where you are pulling these scams internationally over not only the internet, but also calling your victims, then you are not starving and you are probably a little better educated than those around you. These are the people that are dragging down their societies instead of building them up.

I not only blame them, I would like to shoot them for the betterment of their communities.

Re:Can you blame them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104659)

I don't think the GP was about the guy running the operation. Just the guy stuck dialing the phone.

It would be interesting to see what most people would do at the end of the rope. No job and no skills, no family or support system to fall back on. Would you just lay down and die? Would you do whatever you had to do to make it through the day and look after your family?

The guys doing the dialing could have chosen much worse crimes to do. They could turn to mugging, abduction, etc. but they chose a "victimless" (in their eyes) crime.

Re:Can you blame them? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104819)

Hey, what fat, lazy American can't afford to lose $50 anyway? They probably blow through that every evening on junk food. If they're dumb enough to fall for it, then go for it. A fool and his money are soon parted.

Re:Can you blame them? (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104407)

You realize that fraud and scamming people in india is a crime too right?

I don't begrudge and indian guy a job at Infosys or IBM or actual microsoft. You may not like outsourcing, but you can't fault someone for taking a decent job that's a step up from what they have, and you can't expect them to feel bad about taking your job when you get paid 50x as much as they do.

But you still don't feel bad for the guy trying to rob you on the street in New Delhi. He's as much a criminal by indian standards as by western ones.

I admit, there *is* a grey area. Not the area you talked about. But there is a grey area. I feel bad for people there who have to pay bribes to buy a train ticket (which is everyone), and I feel worse when they come here and think they have to do the same thing. But there is a matter of different cultures, and pervasive corruption and ciminality that honest people can't avoid. Fine, I'll forgive some of that. But trying to theft is theft, and I have relatively little tolerance for it, and none at all when it's an intentional organized corporate activity.

Re:Can you blame them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104755)

You realize that fraud and scamming people in india is a crime too right?

So is bribery.

Re:Can you blame them? (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104589)

Apparently no so impoverished as to be unable to afford a call center.

Re:Can you blame them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104777)

I'm fairly certain that the guy dialing for dollars isn't the same guy that owns the call center. Do you think they are?

Re:Can you blame them? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104917)

I'm going to setup a VM with a desktop showing me raping Shiva, shooting and dismembering a cow while holding the Pakistani flag and taking a shit on a set of cricket stumps. The audio would be interesting.

Not surprising (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104161)

Hardly surprising their tech know-how was stone-age. If they were actually competent, they wouldn't be running some lame over-the-phone scam like this. They would either be working a legitimate job or running a large-scale botnet somewhere. The vast majority of criminals are stupid, because smart people either don't get into crime or don't do low-level crap like this.

Re:Not surprising (5, Funny)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104325)

There are much better outlets for exceptional scammers and thieves; politics and wall street seem popular right now.

Re:Not surprising (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104365)

What was the point of destroying the Windows install by erasing services? That makes no sense because, even if they did manage to sell the customer on the product, they'd never be able to recover the machine.

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104453)

Their goal is to sell the "product", not recover the machine. As soon as they have the victim's money, their job is finished.

Re:Not surprising (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104467)

They got to a safe mode command prompt. They should be able to (maybe?) run msconfig from the command prompt and re-enable everything. This would, admittedly, look pretty funny, after having just disabled it due to "malware."

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104975)

They use LogMeIn to get to the desktop. Gotta have a desktop to get to LogMeIn...

Re:Not surprising (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104817)

"Disabling", not deleting. Windows services are pretty easy to disable (Administrative Tools-> Services), such that the computer will start malfunctioning, without deleting them. The really important ones can't normally be turned off from the GUI, but there are ways around that. Turning them back on is pretty trivial, unless you go too far and can't actually boot the machine (in which case Safe Mode should still work).

Re:Not surprising (1)

Digicaf (48857) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104869)

It would be pretty effective at causing panic and fear in the average user. The user could then give their credit info over the phone, or the agent could tell them the command to re-enable the gui and get them on-line again. It wouldn't have to be perfect and they wouldn't care if the right services were re-enabled, since they'd just charge the card and get off the phone.

I got one of these, too (4, Funny)

J053 (673094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104193)

Happened just the other day. They didn't claim to be from Microsoft, though. I asked the caller what OS was on my computer, and she said "Either XP or 7". I don't have any Windows systems in my house, and the call was interrupting something else I wanted to do, so I just said "Wrong!" and hung up.

Re:I got one of these, too (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104357)

Now see this would be fun, fire up a VM with Ubuntu 11 on it and let them have a go.

Or better yet, a windows Skinned XFCE. it looks right but nothing is right......

Re:I got one of these, too (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104705)

I had a call from these guys once.

I set up a new user account in Ubuntu, and then ran the remote access software they asked me to download in Wine.
The remote software sort of started to work, and connected to something their end, but didn't work enough to give any desktop access.
I was running wireshark too, so could see which IP addresses it was talking to.

So, I just kept babbling stuff, and pretending I did not know how to set up the remote access software properly. Then I started dropping hints about 'the base firewall' and 'asking the officer on duty' to make it seem like I was on a militery base. Then I said that the commander of the computer section wanted to talk the them, and the phone went dead.

Re:I got one of these, too (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104761)

Oh my god, that XFCE idea is brilliant.

Re:I got one of these, too (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104455)

Me too, only i do have windows. I played dumb for a bit - she asked me to open event viewer and look for any warning or error messages (there always are) which would indicate my computer was infected. I told her there were none. We went around in circles for ages with her getting me to re-open event viewer, scroll down, etc, to find this "proof" that my computer was infected. After a while she started asking every few minutes if I still wanted to continue the call. Eventually I told her i'm bored of this and hung up.

I suspect that a lot of these "first level" support people who actually call you then eventually pass you on are people who responded to "make money from home" ads, and are just as stupid as the people they are trying to scam.

Re:I got one of these, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104537)

Happened to me too. I said I didn't have a computer and hung up, but immediately thought that I should have at least heard what they wanted me to do. Never mind, they'll call again ;-)

Re:I got one of these, too (2)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104607)

I think a good tactic is to do what this guy did or something similar. Waste as much of their time as you can because they're not going to make any money off of you and the longer you tie them up the less profitable they are.

I wonder if the day will come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104249)

When these guys will be out of business? Will humanity ever learn? Or are we too trusting of people on the other end of the phone line?

What I do (4, Insightful)

Mortimer82 (746766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104259)

I say "Okay, hold on a moment please." I then leave the phone call active, put the phone on my desk or something and do something else until they get bored.

Re:What I do (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104329)

I do that, except I'll go back every couple minutes or so and say .. can you hold on, I really want to talk to you, but I have to finish this one thing ..

I keep a log of how long they will hang on ... the current record, for some insurance company, was nearly 35 minutes before they hung up. They did call back three time afterwards ... but didn't hold on much more than a couple minutes.

My goal, keep them online, but not making a sale for as long as I can. If everyone took 30 minutes for each of these sales type calls and never actually buying, then they would stop calling, as the profit margins would sink.

Re:What I do (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104481)

"Hang on, I just need to find my credit card" will get them waiting for longer.

Re:What I do (5, Interesting)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104495)

I once worked for a place that was going through a bankruptcy. Even though all creditors had theoretically been dealt with, there were still a couple collection agencies that chose to not understand that. Because I'm not intimidated by veiled lawsuit threats (or unveiled ones, for that matter), I wound up being "the guy who screens calls". I got quite good at stalling, getting "interrupted" and generally dragging out calls. This eliminated most of the collection calls with a couple of weeks of this treatment. However, there was one collector who, despite getting worked into a frothing rage on a regular basis, kept calling. Eventually, after he had raged for a bit and was catching his breath (I like to think I shortened his life by several years), I explained my tactics to him. At first, he didn't get it, but after I explained that I knew about call time metrics and that I was messing his up on purpose, he REALLY freaked out. After another 5 minutes or so, I pointed out that keeping on the line with me wasn't improving his numbers. He never called back after that.

Just remember: at a certain point, they aren't wasting your time - they are wasting their own time and amusing you in the process.

Re:What I do (4, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104879)

One time the woman wouldn't take no for an answer.

"Listen, do you get paid by the hour or by the call?"

"By the call."

"So I've told you I'm not interested, why waste your time? Hang up and move on."

"Well, I..." *lightbulb on sound* "Good night, sir."

Re:What I do (2)

dasunt (249686) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104637)

My goal, keep them online, but not making a sale for as long as I can. If everyone took 30 minutes for each of these sales type calls and never actually buying, then they would stop calling, as the profit margins would sink.

Or we'd see telemarketers being the driving force behind a Turing-test-passing AI

;)

Re:What I do (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104711)

Time kept on line:
    2 days ago: 53 mins
    months ago: 1hr 47mins

Useful lines ...
    "I've got my credit card and I really need your help"
    "yeah, I think it has a virus ... it takes literally 10mins to boot" (make 'em wait 10mins)
    "oh, you meant the PC, not the Mac, hold on" ... 10mins
    "The screen has gone blue and it's crashed... I'll reboot" ... 10mins
    "Someone's at the door, I'll be back" ... 5 mins
    "My wife turned it off while I was downstairs, sorry" ... 10mins
    "I bought a ferrari last week, I got a yellow one. Do you like ferraris"...5 mins
    "What's your job? I break legs for a living" (at this point they got suspicious)

Re:What I do (1)

OldTechGuy (1559745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104473)

I tell them that I have a friend in Nigeria who has millions of dollars he needs to launder out of the country, but he can't because HIS system is so infected. I then suggest that they might be a match made for each other...

And the fix is easy (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104277)

Reboot the PC. Just after POST (power on self test), tap the F8 key once a second to invoke Windows boot options. Choose "Safe Mode". Click the Start button and type in MSCONFIG. Select "Normal Startup" under the General tab. Reboot again and all should be well. Assuming you didn't provide CC info or let them install any other application.

I'd love to know what public IP they're hiding behind.

Five Times (2)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104375)

I've been called by these morons five (yes, FIVE) times so far. Lately, they've taken to calling me at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Now, getting a call from a scammer is annoying - getting a call from a scammer in the middle of the night when you're sound asleep makes you want to stab someone in the throat. Or maybe that's just me...

I hope these pricks die in a fire.

Re:Five Times (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104457)

Yeah, no, not just you that I want to stab in the throat.

Had one of those idiots too. (5, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104423)

I had one of these guys on the line a while back. Coincidentally while I was fixing some issues with the PC at my computer-illiterate parents' house. Apparently they called a few times before but they only spoke english (with a very heavy indian accent) and my dad wouldn't even know how to order a beer in english, so their "conversations" ended without any harm done.

They directed me to try all different kinds of command line tools that would display long lists of errors (which is was supposed to do on a healthy system). I checked everything he told me to do by first searching on google and within a few minutes I got to a webpage detailing the phone script the scammers were using.

Oddly enough I told him that I was checking everything on Google first and even told him I found this website, but we still went on for nearly 15 minutes or so (he was paying for the phone bill, I could see no harm in making it expensive). I kept asking him questions and calling him out on his lies (literally calling it lies), but still he kept going. At some point it was all some morbid curiosity trip for me, eager to find out how far this could possibly go. He even kept talking after I told him I had enough fun and was going to hang up. I can't quite understand why he kept wasting so much of his time when I identified him as a scammer after the first two minutes and told him so.

I can understand how they could fool a less informed computer user though.

Re:Had one of those idiots too. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104553)

I had a call recently and managed to get them to hang up on me.

If you have the time and enjoy a laugh, wind them up by telling them the computer is really slow to boot up, ask them to repeat all the commands on multiple occasions, tell them that the commands don't work, put them on hold (phone to the speakers playing thrash metal works really well), laugh at their stupidity and eventually they get annoyed and they hang up.

The same thing works really well with cold sales calls and with those guys you can also wind up their supervisors. I managed to get supervisors to curse at me and then hang up.

It was well worth the laugh.

Re:Had one of those idiots too. (2)

JustSomeProgrammer (1881750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104557)

I think the people they hire to run the phone lines are paid for minutes on the phone.

Re:Had one of those idiots too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104563)

Sadly, when you have to earn a bit of money to buy food for your family, you'd do whatever it takes even if it's immoral, painful and stupid.

Talking (1)

severett (38602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104507)

I was able to keep them on the line talking about random stuff, and not anywhere near a computer until some manager yelled at the poor phone dweeb.

Awesome. :)

What is an anti virus? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104527)

Never heard of it, should not an OS not need one?

I recorded one (4, Interesting)

Barryke (772876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104655)

Three months ago i got a similar call, recorded the conversation (me playing the silly user and him trying to scam me) and forgot to put it online.

So here it is slashdot, i created this page just for you:
http://barrystaes.nl/scambait/ [barrystaes.nl]

(click the AMR file, its the original file my Android phone recorded and 10x smaller)

An awesome telemarketing call I got (5, Funny)

Teppy (105859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104665)

I have a rule for dealing with telemarketers - if they admit they're telemarketing right away, I'll nicely tell them I'm not interested. If they lie, then anything goes. Here's what happened to someone that called me from a "security company:"

Her: Is the business owner there?
Me: Are you telemarketing?
Her: No.
Me: Ok, this is the owner, how can I help you?
Her: Are you aware of the security threats faced by businesses that use the internet?
Me: Oh, yes, I'm well aware of threats. There are all sorts of threats when you're in business.
Her: Does your business use PCs?
Me: Security is a big problem, lawsuits.
Her: Ok, well, we offer a comprehensive...
Me: Because you know, you can be sued for all sorts of things. Employers can be sued by their employees. Business owners have to be very careful.
Her: (Trying to get back to her script) Yes, I'm aware of that. Well anyway, if your business is one of the millions...
Me: For instance, sexual harassment lawsuits, those are a huge concern if you're in business.
Her: I don't think that's ...
Me: Do you realize that people can sue their employer for harassment just because they receive unwanted sexual advances while at work?
Her: No, I didn't, but...
Me: (whispering) So... what are you wearing?

Get them to hang up the quickest. (4, Informative)

Necronomicode (859935) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104739)

I've had numerous calls like this. I've taken a number of different stances on dealing with it. On the last one I didn't really have the time or patience so it went like this:-
Them: "Sir, we are ringing you about the errors on your computer".
Me: "Oh, this scam again, trying to get money from people that don't know any better. I don't know how you get away with it, you should be ashamed or yourselves, ashamed!"
Them: "Brrrrrrr....".

Quickest hang up yet. Felt kinda sorry for the poor woman reading the script but if you're gonna work for 'Evil Inc.' then that's what you get.

Other good tactics:
"Oh, I'm out of work, actually could you lend me fifty quid?"
"This is GCHQ madam, the UK government security center - it is a criminal offence to have access to our secure servers. Are you a terrorist?"
"On mondays my papa sings my happy song, huh, huh, huh"

Since they have a script maybe we should make one for us, just to see how they like it :-)

Re:Get them to hang up the quickest. (5, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104907)

One time I got a call from a guy trying to sell a travel service. I try to be polite, since my wife did telemarketing to get through school.

"How often do you travel?"

"I can not leave the country at this time."

"Uh, okay, what about your family, kids?"

"They are quite young, so they wouldn't travel without a parent."

"Okay, what about your wife?"

"I have been advised by my lawyer not to answer any questions about the whereabouts of my wife."

"..."

"..."

"You, uh, you have a good night sir."

Re:Get them to hang up the quickest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40104955)

Shite, dude - I just ran out of mod points. That was hilarious!

Aussies used to these clowns by now (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104849)

Welcome to the party; they've been calling me, my family, my friends and everyone else for years [scamwatch.gov.au] .

I can recite the pitch opening from memory by now (it almost always begins, "I am from the Windows Technical Support Department", in a strong Indian accent). At first I was irritated ("Huh? Go away"), then angry ("Don't ever call me again!"), then amused ("Why yes! Which one of the seven completely different boxen are you referring to?"), then bored ("Computer? You mean my Google pad thing?"), then concerned ("Do you realise your supervisor is making you break the law?"), and now I just hang up mid-syllable.

And even then they sometimes ring right back, just in case I hung up by accident.

I'm from Windows Computer (2)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 2 years ago | (#40104905)

Most of them know better than to say actual company names so they usually start with something like:

"Hello, Sir, I am calling from Windows Computer..."

Which I usually state what's windows computer, never heard of em... etc. Some of the other posts do give me more ideas. :-D

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