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Old 20th January 2011, 03:12 PM   #1
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Default Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

A relative has been caught by the widespread scam where someone claiming to be from the "Windows Technical Department" (or similar) telephones the unwary and proceeds to scare them with "error reports."

Does anyone have experience of cleaning a PC after such a scam, or of dealing with the consequences?

Details are rather vague, and I cannot travel to see this PC at first-hand, at present. Also, this person does not know how to install or un-install PC programs.

As far as I can understand:

- The scammer phoned and scared this person into visiting a website;
- On the website, they clicked a link which downloaded something;
- This gave the scammers remote access to the PC for a considerable time, possibly over an hour;
- The scammers demanded payment, which was refused;
- At this point, the relative became suspicious.
- The scammers have telephoned again today asking for the PC to be switched-on again.

Last night when I heard about this, I asked the relative to unplug the Internet connection and to run an anti-virus scan (using the latest signatures). I've also asked them to run a Spybot S&D scan (unfortunately using rather old signatures).

As far as I know, this PC is still isolated from the Internet. The account being used had full admin. permissions to Windows XP.

My Concerns:

It is hard to guess exactly what was downloaded and exactly what the scammers did during the 60 minutes + while they had remote access:

- Disable/change security settings?
- Disable/change firewall settings?
- Install Backdoor access?
- Install Trojans
- Install Keylogging programs
- Initiate encryption of stored data files, in preparation for further extortion?
- Install Botnet software?
- etc.

and/or copy & steal:

- any passwords
- any website/eBay/Paypal/Amazon passwords
- credit card/banking/financial info
- personal info
- address books
- etc.

So, I'm wondering what cleaning-up procedures can be explained down the telephone, preferably using words of one syllable, and to someone who still does not appreciate what has happened.

Ideally, I'd want to burn all data (100GB +) onto DVDs, reformat the hard disk and re-install all programs from trusted sources. But, that will probably not be possible.

I'd also want to change any passwords and website passwords, including the Internet router's password. But I'm not sure whether even that is possible.
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Old 20th January 2011, 05:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

I have seen it happen to many times too. Last year I had a neighbor hit. The site stole everything! Her identity was stolen. They bought stock in a phony corporation, a boat in Hong Kong and gold coins with her information. By the way she is ~ 68. Since all of this happened over seas she has little help from her retirement fund backers whose card was used.

The spiel that was used was that the caller told her that he was from the technical support division of her computer manufacture and they had an urgent software recall that had to be fixed right away by government order! What a scam for senior citizens.

What I always suggest to novice is to install the WOT plugin. I tell them if the screen turns red don't go there!
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Old 20th January 2011, 05:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Richard,

There are a lot of these scams going around perhaps all originating from an organisation in Kolkata.

I had a call today which I think claimed to be from the Security Department at Windows. I was asked to visit www (dot) ammyy (dot) com . and to click on 'Run Ammyy Admin'. This would have downloaded an .exe file AMMYY_Admin.exe . Of course once this file has been run, anything could have happened.
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Old 20th January 2011, 05:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Here's s Microsoft page thet briefly discusses, among other things, the Microsoft Tech Support scam (near the bottom of the text). and what to do.

http://www.microsoft.com/protect/fra...ng/Msname.aspx

Here is where you can gert the free Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.

http://www.microsoft.com/security/ma...e/default.aspx

Here is where you can get the free McAfee Stinger tool to remove particularly nasty/stubborn viruses.

http://www.mcafee.com/us/downloads/f...e-stinger.aspx
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Old 20th January 2011, 06:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Hi,

I am running MalwareBytes anti malware on my computer. The paid version which live block suspicious websites.

They also have a free version which lacks the realteam scanning. Bot S & D and MalwareBytes are very good, MalwareBytes is the best; is updated several times a day.

Install MalWareBytes, update the program and definitions and then do a Full Scan. This should remove any spyware.

When you are done with that, run Advanced System Care which you also can download for free. This should repair your registry and system and look for some spyware.

Never, ever, open your system for a technical support representative which you are not sure about.

I am not sure about the name, can be Viewpoint or thinkpoint. Remember one thing, when you come accross this scam (your computer shows a think or viewpoint screen and almost all software which lets you connect to the outside world stops working) don't pay anything!!! When you pay, you loose your money and your computer will not be repaired.

I regularly repair and remove spyware and malware from other peoples computer. The best advice I can give you, be carefull what you view and open on the internet. And especially be carefull where you click on.

DrBob gave a very good advice with his WOT suggestion. When you are not sure or have little of no knowledge how to recognise a possible dangerous website, install it.

Sooner or later we all come accross such malicious software. This laptop has MalWareBytes, Avast, IOBit internet security, ASC running and from time to time I also got the message malicious software was detected. Just delete it.

What you can do in the above situation, make sure your firewall is closed. Lock them out and leave them out. What you also can do is asking them to send the problem to an unimportant email from you. Then when they reply, send that email to your Police department internet fraude. Mostly the third IP, is their ID but not always.

Prevention is better than curing.

Have a nice day.

Friendly greetings,

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Old 20th January 2011, 07:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad_Wolf View Post
I am running MalwareBytes anti malware on my computer. The paid version which live block suspicious websites.
MalwareBytes is good. Many people here use it with good results.

Also available is the free Spybot Search & Destroy from Safer Networking, and the free version of Ad-Aware from LavaSoft.

There is lots of good malware and virus removal software available, but there is also a lot of fake removal software. The fake stuff usually adds malware to your computer, and you have the privilege of paying to download it! Now, the bad guys control your computer, AND have your credit card information.
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Old 20th January 2011, 07:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

IObit Security 360 has been quite fast and effective for me. But, the definitions included may not be the latest, so proceed with caution.
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Old 20th January 2011, 07:05 PM   #8
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Old 20th January 2011, 07:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archibald View Post
Richard,

There are a lot of these scams going around perhaps all originating from an organisation in Kolkata.


It is not me....

And that's why I never have/had a credit card .
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Old 20th January 2011, 08:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arun Sarkar View Post


It is not me....

And that's why I never have/had a credit card .
I managed to get an address out of one of them for my company ordering department . It was here:
EN27 Sector 5, Salt Lake, Kolkata.

You will find if you use McAfee SiteAdvisor that they are posting lots of good comments to try to keep their sites in the green as here.
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Old 20th January 2011, 08:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Salt Lake, Sector 5
Shame.......

So .. it is not me... Salt Lake is most costly place in my city..
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Old 20th January 2011, 08:32 PM   #12
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT! just a fact.

If you are in the U.S. and have Comcast/NBC internet you get the full blown Norton Security sweat free for all your computers. The reason they provide it to their customers is that Comcast/NBC is the largest Internet provider in the U.S. and their network gets hit all the time. Second only to the Govt. Because of the Norton and Comcast partnership Norton has a the most actively infected and hacked public network in the world to work with and provide network security for. If Norton finds a malware etc. they can have an intervention out to all of Comcasts/NBC customers immediately. Better yet Comcast's Network security bridge routers are protected as a first line of defense directly by Norton's Labs.
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Old 20th January 2011, 08:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arun Sarkar View Post
Salt Lake, Sector 5
Shame.......

So .. it is not me... Salt Lake is most costly place in my city..
Thanks everyone for these helpful answers. Astonishingly, no-one this relative has contacted - including the UK Police - has heard about this "Microsoft Tech. Dept." scam.

This makes me wonder what we are paying the police and telecoms authorities for if they can't be bothered to help protect ordinary folk from long-running criminal scams.

Current Status:

PC and router are OFF, in the hope of preventing further damage.

Lots of Internet passwords need changing... but that requires Internet access.

The router's access password was probably stored on the PC. So, it's possible that the scammers may have altered settings or firmware in the router.

There is a spare ADSL router, but that would need some configuring and ideally would also need the latest version of its firmware.

All this is hard to explain over the telephone.

Prevention:

Yes, some software which displays alerts about "bad" websites might be helpful. But, once someone is under the control of these scammers, won't the scammers simply say that the "red alert" is a false alert and that is part of the Windows "fault"?

This PC was protected by "enterprise grade" anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall. It received automatic updates every hour.

But, deliberately, the PC was not "locked-down," so anyone having physical access or being granted remote access might be able to change the security settings.

Some of this software was not the normal software used on home PCs so this might have slowed the scammers.

And Finally:

Apparently my suggestion of burning important data to DVDs before wiping the PC won't work: Apparently the DVD burner failed a few weeks ago.
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Old 20th January 2011, 09:33 PM   #14
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Richard - I do hope you can sort this, and repair any damage. I will be interested to hear how you get on, and manage it.

--------------------------------

I was called again yesterday. I have had about a dozen calls from this crowd over a couple of years and the regular modus operandi is to talk the "target" into looking in the Events viewer Apps logs and seeing all the scary looking icons on the warnings and error logs. These are said to be viruses which are destroying the hard drive. I was told that my "AV programme doesn't work as the Software Maintenance expires when the computer is more than 3 years old." !! There are also mutterings - fairly unintelligable about a connection with Microsoft.

The call lasted about an hour as my delaying tactics strung the conversation along. They are amazingly patient - or pehaps tenacious might be more appropriate. I think they would have waited while I had a bath. I was occasionally referrd to a "supervisor" when my stupid old lady ditherings needed to be dealt with. (I can't find my glasses, or - oh dear, I've dropped my mouse!!)

I have been trying to discover where they hail from and have at last got an address - onlinepccare - this can be found on a Google search, also based in Kolkota with a Salt Lake address. They have a convincing looking website.

I wasn't invited to download anything but I was asked for payment for a "service" for 1 - 3 years. This was to give them remote accesss to my computer to "clean it up and keep it in good running order". I finally told my caller that my (non existent) son dealt with all my finances and that wouldn't happen for at least a week!

This sounds like the one mentioned by Archibald but the one mentioned by Richard sounds like another lot.

Last edited by elderflower; 20th January 2011 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 20th January 2011, 10:08 PM   #15
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Thanks everyone for these helpful answers. Astonishingly, no-one this relative has contacted - including the UK Police - has heard about this "Microsoft Tech. Dept." scam.
Don't feel bad. Most law enforcement departments don't have the money or time to have a specialised division. They often pay an IT company or department to handle internal problems. Also the cost in time and labor is to high with no expected outcome because the offender is often out of the country.

As far as your DVD burner failure, I had a client who was hit by a scam like the one you spoke of, where their DVD/CD drive was disabled in software so you couldn't use CD based software to root out the problem. I had to repair the driver by rolling back the driver.
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Old 20th January 2011, 10:17 PM   #16
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Thanks everyone for these helpful answers. Astonishingly, no-one this relative has contacted - including the UK Police - has heard about this "Microsoft Tech. Dept." scam.

This makes me wonder what we are paying the police and telecoms authorities for if they can't be bothered to help protect ordinary folk from long-running criminal scams.
A few years ago I received suspicious advertising material in the post that intrigued me. On checking out their website, I found it was registered in Barcelona. As this was at least in the European Union, I decided to drop the material into the local police station with a note regarding the website. Later I was phoned by the Electronic Crimes Unit from the county police HQ. They asked me how I managed to find out the website was registered in Barcelona .
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Old 20th January 2011, 10:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by elderflower View Post
Richard - I do hope you can sort this, and repair any damage. I will be interested to hear how you get on, and manage it.
Thanks for that useful account of what happened: Rather more detailed than I have managed to extract from the relative, but part of the power of these scams is the embarrassment that victims feel. This makes them slower to react and far less likely to report the scams.

I am wondering about posting a Linux Live CD: This would boot & run their PC entirely from CD; giving them Internet access without involving anything on the hard disk.

... but "English" in Linux normally means USA English so these CDs are set for a USA keyboard layout.

I am not sure whether the relative has the patience to handle the slight differences such as @ being swapped with "

The Knoppix 6.4.3 Linux Live CD normally boots & works well. It includes OpenOffice, IceWeasel (aka Firefox), etc. etc. Everything runs from the CD so cannot possibly be corrupted by scammers.

There is also a DVD version containing lots more programs.

My favourite Austrumi Linux Live CD loads everything into RAM, releasing the CD drive for burning CDs and then runs like a rocket. But, being in RAM it could possibly be corrupted by scammers. I am typing this using Opera on Austrumi Linux.

Perhaps if this person learns enough now to use a Linux Live CD, they could also use one in future when faced with a broken PC?
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Old 20th January 2011, 11:06 PM   #18
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrBob View Post
Don't feel bad. Most law enforcement departments don't have the money or time to have a specialised division. They often pay an IT company or department to handle internal problems. Also the cost in time and labor is to high with no expected outcome because the offender is often out of the country.
Maybe, but the "authorities" always seem to have enough time and money (our money) to pursue crimes which do interest them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrBob View Post
As far as your DVD burner failure, I had a client who was hit by a scam like the one you spoke of, where their DVD/CD drive was disabled in software so you couldn't use CD based software to root out the problem. I had to repair the driver by rolling back the driver.
Last time that happened to me, my DVD burner had been "stolen" by iTunes in retaliation for me un-installing iTunes. After I gave in and re-installed iTunes, it kindly returned my DVD burner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archibald View Post
Later I was phoned by the Electronic Crimes Unit from the county police HQ. They asked me how I managed to find out the website was registered in Barcelona .
Yes, umpteen years of expensive state education during the period when all UK schools have been equipped with expensive computers has resulted in...
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Old 21st January 2011, 05:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by elderflower View Post
I wasn't invited to download anything but I was asked for payment for a "service" for 1 - 3 years. This was to give them remote accesss to my computer to "clean it up and keep it in good running order". I finally told my caller that my (non existent) son dealt with all my finances and that wouldn't happen for at least a week!

This sounds like the one mentioned by Archibald but the one mentioned by Richard sounds like another lot.
I should have mentioned that my caller promised to phone me in a weeks time - after I have paid for my service. Presumably the next stage of access to my computer would be arranged then. He sounded quite amazed when I said it can't be arranged sooner.

If he is convinced that I have been taken in, I guess I might get the call. Otherwise he may be targeting someone else. Either way - "my son" will have told me I must not spend his inheritance on such things!!

When I was asked to connect to the internet I said I can't talk on the phone at the same time, because I'm on dial-up, so I have to write everything down and carry out any instructions after putting the phone down. We'll see what's next!
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Old 21st January 2011, 06:24 AM   #20
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Default Re: Windows Technical Dept. Scam - How to recover?

Quote:
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I should have mentioned that my caller promised to phone me in a weeks time - after I have paid for my service. Presumably the next stage of access to my computer would be arranged then. He sounded quite amazed when I said it can't be arranged sooner.

If he is convinced that I have been taken in, I guess I might get the call. Otherwise he may be targeting someone else. Either way - "my son" will have told me I must not spend his inheritance on such things!!

When I was asked to connect to the internet I said I can't talk on the phone at the same time, because I'm on dial-up, so I have to write everything down and carry out any instructions after putting the phone down. We'll see what's next!


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