Mr. Genius Man from “Windows Technical Support” gets nasty

I got another “Windows Technical Support” call on Friday evening. My caller ID said Minneapolis, and since I have coworkers in Minneapolis, I answered. But the guy on the other end was a long way from Minneapolis and probably doesn’t know diddly about ice hockey.

I’m pretty sure it was the same criminal as last time, but over a better VOIP connection. I remember the voice pretty well, because his parting lines from last time, “Enjoy your broken computer, Mr. Genius Man!” struck me as funny. And he started the conversation with, “I’m calling you again about your Windows 7 computer.”

My conversation with him revealed a few things about why this scam is likely to be profitable.

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Windows Technical Support calls me again

“Oh, so you think you’re Mr. Genius Man,” the crackly voice said, drowned out by static caused by his cheap VOIP connection. “Enjoy your broken computer, Mr. Genius Man. Goodbye, Mr. Genius Man.”

So ended 23 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, but I figure it’s 23 minutes he wasn’t spending scamming someone else. I don’t do it often, but my kids were playing nicely and we were all in the same room, so I guess I don’t regret it too much. Read more

How I turned a junker PC into a trap for scammers

As my regulars will be aware, for the past few weeks I’ve been getting lots of phone calls from “Peggy” from “Computer Maintenance Department.” What I’ve found during these phone calls is that debating with them does no good, and saying that your computer is crazy fast gets them to hang up on you, but they’ll call back again in a few days anyway.

Last week, I had lunch with a group of future coworkers–I’ll be joining them once my background check results come in–and I mentioned these phone calls. The guy sitting across the table from me said he wants their malware, so he can reverse-engineer it. So I said I would cooperate the next time I got a phone call. Read more

“Mario” from “Microsoft” calls the wrong guy

“Mario from Microsoft” called me last night. I’ve never heard a Mario with that kind of accent, and, I thought he worked for Nintendo. I’ll bet he gets that a lot.

“Microsoft has no reason to be calling me,” I said to “Mario.”

“Oh, we’re a Microsoft certified partner,” he said.

“That’s nice,” I said. “I’m certified too. What’s going on?”

“You are having computer issues,” he said. Read more

This “Computer Maintenance Department” sure doesn’t know much about computer maintenance

“Peggy” from “Computer Maintenance Department” (1-645-781-2458 on my caller ID) called again. Lots of people are aware of these phone calls. They call, make vague claims about receiving a report that your computer is running slow and giving you errors, and are very careful not to say who they are or who they work for. Usually I just do whatever I can to get them off the phone.

But after having lunch with some other computer security professionals last week, a couple of them talked me into finding out how these guys operate. So I fired up a PC that turned out to have a real, legitimate issue. After resolving that issue myself, I turned the caller loose on my semi-functional PC so I could see what these scammers actually do. He had me connect to Teamviewer.com and run their remote access software. I followed his instructions, watched him connect, then slyly unplugged my network cable.

When my network connection dropped, “Peggy” quickly transferred me to a “senior technician” who used the name “Roy.” Read more

How I accidentally found a way to mess with “Peggy”

“Peggy” from “Computer Support Department” just won’t give up. He called me again at about 8 PM this evening. This time, I played along. I had a thrift-store junker PC for him to infect with his malware. The only problem was, the hard drive wasn’t connected and neither was the power cord. So I quickly hooked all that up, booted up, and then played along.

“I want you to click on Internet Explorer.”

“OK.”

“What do you see?”

“Page cannot be found.”

Thus I learned that Peggy isn’t very good at troubleshooting network issues. Read more

“Computer Maintenance Department” called me again from India

So, “Peggy” from “Computer Maintenance Department” called me again last night. This time I decided to mess with him a bit more. This is the second time.

(No, “Peggy” wasn’t his real name, nor did he identify himself as “Peggy,” but that’s the name I’ll use, thanks to that old Discover commercial.)

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How to rent a house without getting your identity stolen

I know a family that’s trying to rent a house. All they really want is something that’s a reasonable commute from work, in a safe area, with a fenced yard for their young son to play in, a basement to take cover in during severe storms, and a little bit of room for storage–in a decent school district.

That’s not as easy to find as it used to be. He’s actually finding more scams than houses that fit his criteria. As a full-time security professional and a part-time landlord, here’s what I want you to know about renting a house.

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