News24

Phone call internet scam hits SA

2012-03-18 22:58

Cape Town - Internet users should be wary of an international phone scam that allows people full access to their computer, according to a report on Sunday.

The Weekend Argus reported that victims get a call on their land line from someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee, alerting them to a computer problem.

The scammers claim the victim's computer is submitting error messages and contains corrupt files that could damage it.

According to the report, the user is led to a programme called Microsoft Event Viewer, which displays error messages. They are then told to go to a website and download software to fix the problem.

Some South Africans had fallen victim to the scam, giving over full control of their computer with an added insult of a £185.

Have you ever been scammed, albeit by phone, email or over the internet? Share your story and warn others!

Comments
  • Sam - 2012-03-18 23:24

    This has been going on for some months, at least. Some foreign-sounding guy phones and says he's phoning on behalf of Microsoft, and since you have MS-registered software... blah blah. IT was quite fun, actually. Had a long conversation with the guy, trying to find out where he's calling from (he claimed from some business park in my town) - I just kept asking him more and more questions until he got pissed off. He then had the nerve to say that I had to agree that I was declining his offer of help at my own risk, so I said certainly, naturally, of course, and it's been a delightful chat, and thanks so much for calling, and better luck with the next sucker. As with so many of these scams, I am flabbergasted that people actually fall for them....

      kayin.scholtz - 2012-03-19 00:40

      yeah, Sam, I had the same thing happen to me- repeatedly, for about 3 months. At first it was the same indian sounding woman, always a microsoft thing, but the name of the company changed. Started to get annoyed actually.

      Art - 2012-03-19 06:25

      I am an EMAIL BILLIONAIRE.... every week... am so tired of being such a "LUCKY WEALTHY PERSON"............ How many people do you know that wins $123m three times a week? LOL! A FOOL and his MONEY are EASLY PARTED!

      mariuskowie - 2012-03-19 07:24

      The scam artists do not claim that they are from Microsoft. They claim that they are from "Windows". Microsoft will never phone an individual PC user. They work through a channel partner system and will contact the closest partner if there is action needed.

      Gert - 2012-03-19 07:35

      I won the UK lotto last week. I kid you not. They told me its legit. I just had to pay them R10 000 so that they can release the money. I did this and, as I'm already lending money for this deposit, I just made a loan of R50 000 so I can throw a party for my mates. I just cant wait for my millions to arrive...

      Gert - 2012-03-19 07:37

      And if this sounds funny to you, remember that there are actually people out there who have done exactly this and they are now in financial ruins because of this.

      Heibrin - 2012-03-19 08:46

      @Sam: kept mine on the line for a half-hour, then told him I had a Mac. I'm still trying to figure out why he put the phone down on me.

      Sam - 2012-03-19 10:24

      @Rebel: well then, these scammers are even more dastardly than I supposed - mine definitely said Microsoft. How dare they flout Microsoft policy like that!

      Martin - 2012-03-19 13:42

      Bloues sometimes they need to learn their lessons the hard way, i win the uk one too, and a texas lottery, and apparently need to update my bank details from every bank except the one i have always banked with, or my favorite from a Mr McWealth sayin a distant relative left me bucks yada yada, its monday comedy show over here

      Multi - 2012-03-19 13:56

      Damnit I no longer have a landline so I'll be very unlikely to get one of these calls. I love torturing idiots and scammers on the phone. My record is 30min before they swore at me and hung up.

      Ronel - 2012-03-19 14:42

      Had the same. The number showed on my landline-dailing code 020 which is somewhere in UK I think.I acted senile and sounded demented,he gave up and broke the call. Microsoft would most probable send you direct e/mail. Also make them hold on while you go to your comp. in another room,then leave alone.

      Johan - 2012-03-19 14:46

      I have a blog where these scams are listed. Feel free to report those that aren't missing. It is up as a public service to those of us who still believe in integrity. See - http://scamlistings.blogspot.com/

      Nicholas - 2012-03-19 22:08

      I had the same, a call from India. Don't people ask themselves the question as to why someone from overseas would be so concerned about their computer???

      melissa.jarvis2 - 2012-03-20 11:56

      this scam happened to me. they called my house and said they were from microsoft. Since i am an IT person i didnt believe them, they got aggressive and i hung up, they called back twice. They had heavy indian accents

  • caroline.chaychukreynolds - 2012-03-18 23:46

    They called us yesterday ...... I gave the phone to my husband because Im blonde and I didnt understand what he was talking about . My hubby caught on it was a scam >>>

      tsholob - 2012-03-19 00:01

      offcourse leave it to the man to handle it :P

      Juan - 2012-03-19 00:52

      There's another scam where they try and get you to download a free "anti-virus" program. My wife got the call, and the more she tells him we have antivirus on our computer, the more this Nigerian sounding character insisted that she download it.

      Craig - 2012-03-19 11:06

      Thanks Caroline, your honesty gave me a good chuckle.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-19 12:37

      Caroline thanks for the laugh.

  • Morné - 2012-03-19 02:17

    Got the call, from the same woman (Indian sounding accent), FOUR times over 3 months, even after I blew her off every-time; she just calls again ignorant of her previous attempts to scam me. Its reached the point where I immediately recognize her voice and have to tell her to get knotted.

      Michael White - 2012-03-19 06:48

      I just love stringing them along, once they realise you have spent 10 minutes acting like a retard but are actually just having a laugh at their expense they get angry and put the phone down. Try get them to wait while you go find your pc, even ask some random questions like what does it look like, is it that little electric book with a tv in it??

      Alan - 2012-03-19 09:36

      @ Michael White. Good one, Gave me a laugh for a Monday morning.

  • billidp - 2012-03-19 03:23

    Guys although this article is quite badly written and a bit behind the times ( it has been happening in SA for a few months now and in CT for a few weeks already) it is genuine... has happened to friends of mine... thankfully wise friends who were not caught out but I do know of some senior citizens who were caught so be careful. Microsoft WILL NOT phone you regarding upgrades, problems etc. If anyone phones you DO NOT give them any details...

      Silvana - 2012-03-20 06:09

      LOL billidp. Is CT not part of SA?

  • Craig - 2012-03-19 05:48

    My mother got the same call. Unfortunately for them & fortunately for my mother, I run my own IT consultancy business. So all my mother replied is that I correct any issues with the computer, goodbye! How ever the woman got quite argumentative, hoping to bully my mother to do what she should do, so my mother put the phone down. This happened in 2011.

  • charles.hodgson - 2012-03-19 06:51

    I'm sorry but if you've been scammed by these douche bags then you deserve it... Do what I did: after easily recognizing the scam I kept them going on the line for over 40 minutes playing dumb as she tried to talk me into downloading their spyware. Eventually she hung up in desperation after the 10th time I asked her why Microsoft charges so much for Office.

      werner.smidt - 2012-03-19 11:41

      I'm pretty sure there are other ways of educating people about phone scams without being so condescending. Let me get this straight . . you spent 40 minutes of your time just to get a mild chuckle? OK then . . .

      Heiku - 2012-03-19 13:44

      Ive spent days in efforts to have a good chuckle at somebody elses expense. Charles Hodgson I solute you.

      Sam - 2012-03-19 15:54

      @TheSlip: gosh, talk about condescending... However, you don't understand. Keeping a confidence trickster busy for 40 minutes is an act of pure heroism, as far as I am concerned. Imagine how many victims they could have garnered in that time. Charles.hodgson: I salute you!

      Carol - 2012-03-19 16:16

      Ja and it's their call racking up the minutes while you string them along. Great stuff!

      Grant - 2012-03-19 18:45

      good on u and a sharky nice

  • Kevin Nicklin - 2012-03-19 07:03

    Had the same Asian sounding woman call me. Told me that I have malicious software on my computer that is sending out emails to computers across the globe and causing complications and that legal action will be taken against me if I don't rectify the situation. Told her off and hung up. My concern is how do they find our land line number and name? I have never posted my landline on any website. The only way is through it being connected to the net and they must be able to ID the name And number somehow. Definitely something Microsoft needs to investigate and resolve!

      Zamakulu - 2012-03-19 07:28

      I believe they simply assume you have a PC. I know of two elderly people in my community who've received calls. Both have never ever used a PC or for that matter owned one.

      Joao - 2012-03-19 07:55

      My landline was activated for exactly 1 hour and when I received a call from a funeral policy telemarketer asking for me by my name and address. I insisted to know where the telemarketer obtained my personal information. Under pressure she admitted that her employer got it from Telkom's database, and that she has the Telkom database open on her computer(!!!). I later found out that it is legal for Telkom (and every other merchant) to release (sell) their database(s) to interested parties. Telemarketers have direct access to these databases. You cannot stop them from sharing their databases, but you can stop them calling you by registering on the DMA website.

      Kent - 2012-03-19 14:02

      The National Opt Out Register can be found at http://www.nationaloptout.co.za/ . You can opt out online or via SMS by SMSing DMA followed by your ID number (this is crucial) to 31484 standard sms rates apply. The Don't Contact Me list - serves the sole purpose of removing your name and address from prospect mailing lists. According to the National Consumer Act any company embarking on a direct marketing campaign will be required to run their list against the Opt Out register and ensure that any names on the opt out register are deleted off their database. Although you will see a reduction in the unsolicited direct mail you receive, not all commercial mail will stop. For example you may continue to receive mail from companies with which you already do business with for example a banking institution - where you have provided consent for them to market to you. To register, click on the Do not contact icon and then complete the necessary fields. Of vital importance is the submission of your ID number to ensure that all your details are removed.

      Art - 2012-03-19 20:53

      Kent... then after you have given this info to them... it is SOLD TO THE NIGERIANS!!!! LOL!

      Art - 2012-03-19 20:56

      Only rectum's forward their ID's to an unknown address/ website!! Reminds me of the Nigerian Soccer team's Goalie.... After the 2010 W C..... he felt sorry for all those Nigerians that came to SA to watch their team get knocked out in the 1st round.... he promised ALL their supporters a flight/ ticket refund... they just had to forward him their bankaccount numbers!!!!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!

  • Roger - 2012-03-19 07:24

    My favorite with any telesales calls is "wait a minute "and put the phone aside. Wait 5 minutes and then say " Are you still there"? Nobody ever is.

      michael.vanderwatt1 - 2012-03-19 14:15

      Great idea Roger!!! They always seem to call at the strangest of times......tell them off is the answer!!!

      khehle - 2012-03-19 15:48

      Why have I never though of that. Excellent....

      emma.barrycox - 2012-03-20 19:36

      I used to run a telemarketing deck (SORRY) If the first words out of our mouth are "I don't have a credit card" or "Im unemployed" they will try and get off the phone ASAP. Plus you will get off there list for at least 12 months

      1McBird - 2012-03-21 15:06

      Works like a charm Roger :-)My record to date was 2minutes 54seconds until they hung up.

  • Murechen - 2012-03-19 07:54

    I recieved a call like this on Friday, but I hung up because I couldnt understand a word the guy was saying and I became suspicious when he referred to the machine as my "home computer" and not my office machine.

  • Louanne - 2012-03-19 08:05

    Had a call like that from a guy with a colored accent said he was phoning from Cape Town...... I told him to "JUMP"

  • christa.vanderwalt1 - 2012-03-19 08:16

    This company phoned me too. I very quickly switched my computer off and told them to go away quietly. But exactly the same process.

      Sam - 2012-03-19 15:56

      You switched off your computer? Did you also close the curtains?

  • Susan - 2012-03-19 08:44

    Happened to my mother and mother-in-law too. Luckily they trusted their gut instinct and suspected it was a scam. Mother-in-law called us to say there might be something wrong with her PC and if we can take a look. Remember, the older people aren't as clued up about these things as we are and get caught easily. They can do the minimum on a PC as it is and if someone calls saying they're from Microsoft they will fall for it. Regardless of the fact that you can tell them until you're blue in the face that Microsoft will never call them.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-19 12:44

      Well Susan, I am an older person, 74 in fact and no one sells me stones for potatoes. I get these calls too, I interrupt them straight away and sometimes tell them I am in the middle of some hot sex and they have no right to disturb my delight, they never call back.

      Robsschele - 2012-03-19 16:50

      Hi Susan. I'm also almost 63 and I will definitely not fall for these crap. I was a surveyor and used Surpac, Modelmaler, Roadmaker and created speadsheets on Lotus and Excel. Please do not generalize.

  • Sally Anne Vermaak - 2012-03-19 09:13

    They say they are calling from windows, the line is generally very broken up.

  • Lee - 2012-03-19 09:40

    Well I have to be honest with you all, I have no idea about computers and if someone phoned me saying they are from where ever when it has something to do with computers I would have believed them and would be only too gratefull that I am getting help or advice from someone. So I am actually sitting her in shock to think that people go that far to scam people and also very pleased to learn of this before getting that call. Eish!!! sad that you cannot trust anyone these days and those that are honest suffer because of this because people don't beleive them.

      Ivan - 2012-03-21 10:53

      You have no idea about computers, but you could access the internet and go onto News24.com and post a comment ??? How honest is that ??? Ha ha ha. How funny !!!

  • Rey - 2012-03-19 10:00

    All you guys are very clever, so wouldn't get could. Famous last words, these guys are very clever and seem to know stuff that they shouldn't, like laptop and software information. They must have some spyware backing it up, they are too well informed. A colleague of mine nearly got caught and he isn't stupid, they can sound very convincing.

      Sam - 2012-03-19 15:58

      Rey: Believe me, they absolutely can NOT sound convincing enough to catch me. Same with automatic cash machine scams... NOBODY has ANYTHING to do with what's going on between you and that machine - if ANYONE gets involved, for ANY reason, get the hell out.

  • Patsy - 2012-03-19 10:19

    They say there's one born every minute!!!

  • Bill - 2012-03-19 10:20

    Telemarketers all seem to sound the same and start off by asking how you are? This is your cue to say "funny you should ask that" , then proceed to go into great detail about all your health matters. You can have fun for ages this way.

      Murechen - 2012-03-19 11:56

      VERY FUNNY, must remember that

      Ronel - 2012-03-19 14:50

      Bill, yes one of my favorit games with them!

  • Gail - 2012-03-19 10:36

    I'm 63 and had a similar call a while back. Thankfully I have had a "home computer" since 1976 and told him that my son was a computer engineer and took care of any problems thank you very much. Not had a call since. As far as scams go it is pretty obvious it is a scam a are the people who tell you that you have won the lottery - the English is frequently poor. People also need to beware of the ones who call you to do surveys and then a couple of weeks later someone else calls to tell you you have won a free holiday and need to come to collect your prize. This is just a ruse to get you in front of a very high power salesman who wants to sell you points in a holiday scheme for upwards of R15,000. Ask them if they will but the points back from you if you decide after trying them out that it isn't for you. If the answer is no, do not sign! They may also tell you that you can bank the points or leave it to your heirs but it is a total scam.

  • adrien.mcguire - 2012-03-19 10:59

    I have had one of these calls. Very amateurish. I called microsoft and they confirmed that it was a scam. Luckily, I didnt give them acces to my computer. Forewarned is forarmed !

  • justinasher - 2012-03-19 11:52

    I suspect a few Mac users may have been caught out by this very very clever scam...

  • Dianne - 2012-03-19 11:54

    £185 ? Is the reporter still living in the dark ages?

      Robsschele - 2012-03-19 16:55

      They are still using Pounds in UK. It was international call. When you play UK lottery they charge you 4 Pounds. Ask me.

  • Gofuq - 2012-03-19 12:02

    this was in the local community paper last year. who researches this crap?

  • lnaicker - 2012-03-19 12:07

    I work for Microsoft - Partner Development Manager , we will NEVER call an end user if there are sytem errors or issues. We work through Channel Partners who in turn have customers who deal with End Users. Not Possible for us to have any system error details for a home user! Dont be Conned!!

  • Jo - 2012-03-19 12:10

    Isn't this old news? I was phoned by these people last year already, and twice this year.

      Gofuq - 2012-03-19 12:27

      agreed jo.another major "scoop" for news 24.

  • Jacqui - 2012-03-19 12:35

    My friend in England mentioned this scam last week. Apparently Nigerians are behind it. Don't be gullible and tell them to go some where very warm. Oh my, I just realized I will probably have half of Nigeria, the half not already here, now yelling at me.

  • flysouth - 2012-03-19 13:15

    Only an idiot could be taken in by this! I have had two calls like this, both times an Asiatic sounding female claiming to be calling about a problem with my computer - let's say I was very 'blunt' to her.

  • Friedrich - 2012-03-19 13:16

    My Fiance's mom got the call a while back, and immediately asked me if it is true that they need to do an update, reason she asked me, i work in IT, and told her not to do anything as it is a scam. Also Indian speaking people. Amazing what people would think of. Good that it is on News now.

  • petra.nicol - 2012-03-19 13:20

    I had a call from some strange-accented person from "Windows" with these allegations (informing me that my computer was sending error messages & was obviously "slowing down & would soon crash!!) - told them I wasn't interested in their help & there was no way they would have my phone number from alleged "error reports" & they promply hung up the phone!!

  • Dennis - 2012-03-19 13:51

    How doff must you be to believe this crap ???

  • Arthur - 2012-03-19 13:59

    Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to have a little button that one can press that severely shocks these "scammers" when they come through to our phones or computers It should be able to burn their ears or systems, putting either/or both out of action for some long time If they get up and running again...and try one more time..."the button" then causes them some serious permanent harm mob justice in cyberspace

  • quentin.horn1 - 2012-03-19 14:13

    Hahaha...the poor Windows users, once yo go Mac you never go back :)

  • jacovniek - 2012-03-19 14:22

    I wish they would call me. My response would be: "...but I dun Linux?"

  • Clive - 2012-03-19 14:23

    haha i wish they call me just say you are on a old 56k dail up modem and they must stay on line to guide you on the download and installation process give them 10 mi tell them u need to start over due to bad connection speed :)) keep them busy for sometime

  • VaMbozha - 2012-03-19 14:35

    I told the caller to hold on for like 30 mins..."cause my pc is very very very slow. I actually went out for lunch so am not sure for how long he kept holding!

  • Richard - 2012-03-19 14:43

    I was contacted by the scam "artists" and listned to what they said , then told them my PC crashed , they hung up and phoned again the next day ,, I told them they had broken my PC and they must pay to fix it . I was handed over to the "head of IT" ,, and I told him he owed me money ,, after a while they hung up and I have never had them call back

  • antoinette.vanantwerpen - 2012-03-19 14:48

    I have received 2 or 3 phone calls regarding this... it already atarted last year. The 1st time I replied yes, I do have a computer,but that I was not at the computer at the moment and after the lady talked to me for quite a while, I ended the call. The 2nd time she phoned, I made as if I could not understand what she was talking about and the 3rd time I only spoke Afrikaans,because it is the same lady that phone every time and she has a foreign accent,almost like German.

  • Skuiter - 2012-03-19 15:00

    Lol. How stupid can one person be? If there is a problem with Windows, it will be rectified with an update . End of story. There are NO third party applications designed to adress Windows bugs.. Phoning you nogals.

      Richard - 2012-03-19 15:30

      but the problem could be caused by installing software , and microsoft do not have to issue updates to fix this ,, you nogal

      Skuiter - 2012-03-19 16:10

      Read nogals - the scammers ask you to install a 3rd party app. Thats where the idiotfactor steps in. Hence the comment on no windows bug will ever be adressed by a 3rd party application or a seperate install. If its critical, it will be adressed in an update, like the 2 they had last year where they rolled out updates outside the normal timeframe to adress issues with false positives on av software and i cant remeber the other issue....nogal

  • Pijorny - 2012-03-19 15:05

    This scam would'nt work on me. I get all my Microsoft software from The Pirate Bay! So I would know they scamming from the get-go.

      Sam - 2012-03-19 16:04

      Ha ha! You'd better watch out, Microsoft is coming to get you!

  • Lwads - 2012-03-19 15:32

    Geezzz, the writer had a hectic weekend to an extent he/she just copied it from the UK side and forgot to convert ZAF currency... Thanks for the warning mate, we will do the rest and convert it...

  • Hugo - 2012-03-19 15:43

    so is this how Bill Gates got rich :D

  • Hugo - 2012-03-19 15:43

    so is this how Bill Gates got rich :D

  • philipajane - 2012-03-19 16:16

    I reported this to the commercial crimes unit last year in September. It's been happening for a while. Old news!

  • wayne.gemmell - 2012-03-19 16:31

    I had that call a few times. Very dodgy.

  • Darryl - 2012-03-19 16:50

    This article at http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Fighting-back-against-crime-Online-20120208 mentions some sites that deal with scams in SA

  • KCorsar - 2012-03-19 17:07

    Article quite dodgy, but then anyone who takes telephonic advise from a stranger to fix their PC shouldnt be allowed a computer...............

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-03-19 17:57

    I had some good fun with these guys some time ago. I pretended to play along. Told them of all the messages and dialogue boxes open on my screen. Made some "mistakes". Chatted to the caller in the meantime about the weather, sport, technology, history, music, or anything trivial that came to mind. Carried on for quite some time. Then I informed the lady that I have an error message on my screen. She then asked me to read the message. I then "read" it : "This is a scam". I told her that it obviously was a mistake and that my computer needed fixing. I asked her if we could please start all over again. The line suddenly went dead. BTW : When British pounds in S.A. turned to Rands, 1 Pound = R2.00, and if I am not mistaken, $1.75 = R1.00. When Zimbabwe changed, their dollar was equal to our Rand. It seems things have changed a bit since then.

  • Cathy - 2012-03-19 19:44

    I got the call at my children's house and immeditaely told them it was a scam and put the phone down.

  • Andries - 2012-03-20 02:15

    What ignorant noob would fall for this? Sorry, but if people actually did get done in by this scam then they frankly deserve the loss of a few hundred rand. Hopefully they learned something.

  • thapsta - 2012-03-20 06:18

    ttt

  • Ulrich - 2012-03-20 07:13

    Seriously, when has Microsoft EVER called you?