Watch out for scammer web sites impersonating companies

If you ever have to contact a company for whatever reason, do not trust the search engines completely. In many cases, they are not Microsoft [or Google, or Yahoo or…] support and will probably charge you quite a bit of money when contacting actual Microsoft [or Google, or Yahoo or…] help would be free in some cases.

Many times these are like the same scammers who call and complain that your computer is full of malware.

Find what you need from the company’s actual web site.

In particularly I came across one scammer web site. The typical web site that supports all kinds of operating systems and computer manufacturers and who claim they have many certified technicians available 24 hours a day. [Note that I will not mention the web site.]

But I really didn’t come across this “company” by a search engine searching for help.

Instead I clicked on a bad link and I got the following message [more after the image]….

scam_site

[I blurred out the scammers toll free number.]

The page above is on the same web site. So the question is why would a “legitimate” site have this also on their site?

If you try the page on another computer, you get the same two pieces of malware they claim is on your computer. Wow! A coincidence that both computers have the same malware. [And the only way to get rid of the message is to kill your browser completely from the Task Manager or reboot your computer. The page actually is harmless.]

A slight twist in those phone scammers

Slightly different from previous scams, where you get a call from a Microsoft “representative”, now a company was set up to make those calls look legitimate.

Be on the look-out from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or a representative of Microsoft with the phone number 855-888-5881. They are reported to be from a company called Ceylon Technologies. They actually have a web site.

As usual they will claim that they [Microsoft] have detected a problem with your computer [any number of reasons] and require accessing your computer remotely.

From there they won’t fix the problem but cause more problems and then state that the problem is more serious than previously thought.

They will then want to charge $80 [or so] to fix the problem but in the end won’t do much to fix the problem they caused.

A reminder that Microsoft doesn’t know that you own a Windows based computer. They wouldn’t call you [unless of course you initiated it for whatever reason].

Hang up on them.

Scamming telemarketers fine and ordered not to call

[Ya. Right.]

The CRTC has fined two companies based in India for breaking Canada’s telemarketing rules [Do Not Call registry]. Pecon Software Ltd. and Avaneesh Software Private Ltd. were making unsolicited telemarketing calls to Canadians even though they registered their phone numbers on the national do-not-call registry.   The scammers would warn people their home computer was infected with a virus and offer to sell them online technical support or anti-virus software. In fact, there was generally no problem with their computer. In some cases, the scammers would convince their victims that they should remotely connect into the victim’s computer to show the issues and or “fix” the problem.

The scammers generally said they were either from Microsoft or saying something like “Windows Support Group” [tricking the victims to think that they are from Microsoft but without saying so directly].   Pecon Software has been fined $495,000, while Avaneesh Software has been fined just $12,000. The CRTC has also ordered both companies to stop making the calls.   As the two companies are based in India, I don’t think the CRTC’s “arms” can stretch that far and I suspect the two companies could ignore the fines and orders. According to someone I know, the only way the CRTC could see the fines if either company has assets in Canada or there is some type of treaty with India.

It is a bit odd that the CRTC went after them just for breaking the telemarketing rules [telemarketing?] and ignoring the obvious fasct that what they did was at least fraud. There are probably hundreds if not thousands who have complained on the Internet.

Problem is that no one seems to either care about the fraud part or they can’t do much about it.

Update [2012/10/05] : In the US, the FTC sent after six companies and individuals forking for them including Pecon Software. According to the FTC, the scammers tried to avoid detection by using virtual offices that turned out to be mail-forwarding operations, and by using 80 disparate domain names and 130 different phone numbers.

A U.S. District Court in Maryland ordered a halt to the scheme in 2008, and through a settlement in 2011, a father and son were ordered to pay $8.2 million in restitution. Two other defendants settled the charges against them, and default judgments were issued against three others.

New computer scammers – this time child porn accusations against users

In another way to frighten people, new scareware is warning people that your computer contains child pornography. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warned that this type of scareware is new but is plaguing computer users.

The message demands money [usually $100] in order to fix the problem. People have received pop-up messages on their computers claiming to be from the RCMP or CSIS or the Federal Government of Canada.

Like previous scareware, no government would resort to pop-up messages [they would use the “normal” means like a visit by the RCMP or local police].

The message is coming from a pop-up window and if you click on the window it will lock up your computer.

If you’ve been “locked out” of your computer, it’s an indicator that your system has probably been infected with malware.

What may fix this problem is the following (but don’t use your web browser to do so):

* Shut down the computer with the power button, turn it back on and see if the message reappears.

* Reset Internet Explorer’s settings without opening it [consult the Internet from another computer if you don’t know how].

* Update your computer’s anti-virus definitions and do a full scan.

* Check with some type of anti-malware software.