“It’s a good thing I called when I did,” says the man on the other end of the phone. “Oh, this is worse than I thought.”
Idaho Falls resident Arlene Riding watched as the mouse jumped back and forth across the screen, clicking here, opening another screen, scrolling through files and checking boxes.
“What are you doing, now?” she asks.
The mouse continues to click, move and slide. He ignores her questions.
“Oh…. Oooh … look at this virus,” the man says, feigning amazement. “It’s a good thing I called when I did.”
For nearly 30 minutes the repairallpc.com repairman kept Riding on the phone. At the end, he said he’d cleaned it all.
“That’ll be $99,” he says.
Riding was the latest victim in a scheme that has swept the world. Commonly referred to as the Microsoft scam, an alleged technician warns the person answering the phone that Microsoft — or some affiliate company — has detected a virus in their computer, and as technicians, they will need to take control of the computer to clean it up.
In this case, Riding fell victim and turned over a credit card payment of $99. Cybercriminals use Microsoft, the largest software provider, to trick people into believing they have a virus on their computers. The scammers often use publicly available phone directories so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.
But, no matter how much confidence they build with you, “MICROSOFT IS NOT MONITORING YOUR COMPUTER!“ A technical writer for WIRED magazine, recently took a call from the scammers and recorded it. It’s kind of scratchy, but interesting to watch, if you have about a half an hour.
Saturday night was long for Ms. Riding as she pondered what she’d done. She grown more suspicious that this was a scheme, but felt she had needed to pay for the services done. By Sunday evening, she knew she had come to grips that the $99 payment went to a con artist.
On Monday morning, she went to Better Business Bureau and admitted the error.
“I advised her to contact her credit card company to reverse this charge and prevent any new charges from coming through,” says Samantha Gillihan, customer services in the BBB’s Idaho Falls Branch. “Additionally, I let her know she needed to get her computer to someone who could undo whatever [the scammer] did, as well as change the passwords and usernames, if possible, for all accounts she uses online.”