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Indo-Mancunian Windows support scammer phones Reg hack

Cold caller from tropical climes

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Yesterday I got a call from a chap claiming to be from Windows Support, letting me know that my computer was dangerously infected, and that only he could help.

The scam isn't new - we reported on it a year ago - but tough times are driving miscreants to expand operations to the point where even Reg staff are being targeted in the attempt to put the wind up unsuspecting computer users.

I was working from home when the chap, sporting a generic Indian accent, called up and told me he had traced an infection to my computer. He spoiled the effect almost instantly by calling himself "Jack Johnson", but went on to explain that the Windows company made a habit of monitoring infections and that just such an infection had been seen on my PC.

He seemed unaware that Windows was a product from a company called Microsoft, but I let that pass as it seemed cruel to pursue it.

Jack asked me to switch on my computer, and then talked me through opening the "prefetch" directory. Apparently the 74 files that Vista had created to speed loading presented a real and present danger, matched only by the thousand or so "inf" files that we found. Jack's feigned alarm was well done; he really sounded as though he cared as he asked me to hand over control of my PC.

That stage was necessary before Jack would let me speak to the "Microsoft-certified engineer". Unfortunately I wasn't prepared for the call, so didn't have the protection I'd want in place before visiting logmein123.com - a perfectly legitimate service for remote desktop management. If I had visited the caller would have given me a company ID which LogMeIn would have been delighted to shut down, though there's nothing to stop the scammers setting up another account.

Instead I pushed for the company's name and address - always worth asking for. Jack was certain that he was based in Manchester, but seemed surprised that this wasn't enough detail for me. When pushed he told me the company was based at "24 Sawai Lauha". I suggested this wasn't a place in Manchester and Jack hung up on me, leaving me woefully unprotected.

Since getting that call we've had a couple of emails from readers to say they've had similar experiences in the last day or two, so it seems the scammers are keeping busy. You might want to take the time to remind you less technically literate friends that strangers calling on the phone should be treated like those knocking on the door - and not invited in to have a go on the computer. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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