Microsoft phone scam being run from Indian call centres

July 19th, 2010 187 Comments By Mof Gimmers
call center 737 Microsoft phone scam being run from Indian call centres

Human battery chickens, yesterday

There’s a scam goin’ on that implicates Microsoft being run from Indian call centres, report the Guardian.

The scam starts with a call which goes through the usual security checks before saying “I’m calling for Microsoft. We’ve had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer.

Naturally, they then tell you that your computer is going to die or sprout legs and kick you to death or something should the problem go unsolved.

If they’ve succeed in convincing you to keep talking, you’ll be directed to your computer and asked to open a program called “Windows Event Viewer”. To the average user, it looks like a troubling and long list of errors, some labelled “critical”.

“Yes, that’s it,” says the caller. “Now let me guide you through the steps to fixing it.”

You’re then sent to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote control of your computer and the caller “installs” various “fixes” for the problem. Then you need to cough-up £185.

Of course, there’s was never anything wrong with your computer (well, unless you count that weird porn you’ve been looking at) and naturally, the caller does not work for Microsoft. Microsoft aren’t in the habit of ringing people up are they? Sadly, anyone falling for this will have handed over every bit of data from their computer.

This scam has been going since 2008 and grew hugely this year. It is being run from call centres based in Kolkata, by teams believed to have access to sales databases from computer and software companies who seem to be using the phonebook to get names to call.

When contacted about the scams, Microsoft said it was “currently investigating a series of instances in which the business practices of an organisation within the Microsoft Partner Network [that] have given rise to significant concerns from a number of sources. We take matters such as these extremely seriously and will take any action that is appropriate once our investigation is complete.”

The company has noticed the problem. “Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer,” it says on its website. “If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls.”

Comments (187) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by Kathy Regelski April 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Got same call. Said I was going to call Microsoft and go directly thought them if there was an issue. Guess what…they hung up. A friend of mine keeps an air horn next to the phone just for these calls. I think that I will have to get one as well :)

  2. Posted by Wai April 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I had a call this Saturday from an Indian guy, which against my better judgement, I played along to see what he could do. There was a guy Raja on instant messaging and another technical guy called Andrew Wilson doing the ‘technical analysis’. In terms of what they did, it was basic DOS prompt stuff like ‘scandsk’, ‘root’ and ‘defrag’. I can see that it might have looked impressive to someone who know little about computers. I did get bored with this after a while and said I was going to switch off. It was then that he offered me a £170 package with some “southend” web site to resolve all my IT problems which included calling me each month. He pleaded with me not to switch off, but I was so annoyed at myself for entertaining the guy in my own time. Never again!

  3. Posted by DannyG May 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I just received a call going on about the same thing but this indian fella also tries to tell me that my windows and office licenses were invalid. Decided i’d waste as much of his time as possible for revenge as he really should’ve chosen someone who doesn’t work in the IT industry and with Microsoft all day long!! He finally threatened to cancel all my Microsoft licenses before hanging up!!

  4. Posted by Sam June 7, 2012 at 8:57 am

    What happens if you do fall for it??

  5. Posted by Tony June 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I got the call, I told him I had a apple PC and he hang up! I don’t really have a apple pc!!!

  6. Posted by Jan June 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Just had a call now – when I challenged it and said I had Antivirus, was told it was “deeper than that”. So I asked the Indian lady what the error code was that she had.. she hung up!

  7. Posted by Gemma June 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Cant believe I have found all this! Iv just had a call from an Indian lady called Andrea! As soon as I heard the accent I was suspicious! I told her I was far too busy at that time and would call her back. She was keen and kept insisting on cslling me back instead but i finally insisted and She gave me a free phone number 08000488162. I haven’t dared ring it just in case the call costs me a fortune! Hope they ring back now just so I can give them a mouthful, con artists! Grrrr!

  8. Posted by Mandy June 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Hi I just had Andrea call me spouting the same drivel that she gave Gemma so same again asked for a number to call back when not so busy which gave me time to do a search on this con. Horrible People.

  9. Posted by Paul June 21, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Just had exactly the same type of call from an asian gentleman who goes by the name of Andy Brian. I thanked him very much for bringing these issues to my attention and told him that I was immediately going to smash my machine up and treat myself to a new one. He wasn’t very impressed and peaded with me not to do it. Great fun!!!!

  10. Posted by Julian June 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I’ve been getting these calls quite a bit over the last few months. Had one the other day from an Indian woman called Natasha.
    Played along with her requests then when she asked me what I was seeing on my computer IP told her I was seeing photos of womens feet. lol
    I also kept mumbling a bit to the point she called me an idiot.
    My reply was she was an idiot for trying to trick me and I then hung up on her.
    Bloody brats.

  11. Posted by june July 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    iv just had the same call about 10 mins ago said my computer would close down with in the hour i asked where he was calling from and he said usa i said sorry where did you get my number from he said mircosoft had given it him lol i then put the phone down.

  12. Posted by ken July 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    hi
    just had same call from Asiff fromIndia July 18/ at 1/30
    played along then argued with him wot n/a meant he got annoyed and hung up.

  13. Posted by Dennis July 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    July 27th,
    Hi, just had similar call from ”Frank”, similar tale to all the above. The 08000488162 number he gave me googles to furniture store in Blackpool.
    I adopt the same attitude with all Indian call centres who use european names. If they are lying about their name, then the rest of their pitch is probably also a lie. Tell them and hang up!

  14. Posted by chris August 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Had a call from a ‘James Anderson’ today – with Indian accent, claiming to be a Microsoft Support technician and telling me that my pc had been hacked into 16 times! Wanted me to pay £318 for ‘lifetime’ protection otherwise my pc would crash imminently and I may get fined £1000 by microsoft for allowing my pc to infect others.
    This has been going on for at least a couple of years now and it’s about time Microsoft did something about it – the elderly and vulnerable must be paying out and it’s horrible, nasty criminal activity. How do these people sleep knowing that they’re going to work conning people every day?

  15. Posted by Arlene August 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I too have been getting these calls DAILY and HOURLY.. went out today and bought an air horn. Don’t know if it will work, but sure made me feel better!. Too bad there isn’t a way to identify these jerks. All the phone id says is “out of area” p.s. my guy also had the name of James!!

  16. I fell for this and paid $150. My computer seems to be responding faster but now I feel that I’ve been taken. Think I’ll attempt to dispute the Visa charge. Wish me luck!

  17. Posted by katie August 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I was called last night and told by an Indian lady that they were Microsoft Certified Technichians and that those ‘send errot report’ things that come up on the screen sometimes had alerted them to critical problems with our computer. When I asked how they got our detail they said we provided them when we registered the software etc. My husband has been away for a few days and I foolishly let her talk me into entering into some code or other and bringing up a list of 5000+ critical error messages. I know nothing about computers and ours does seem to do odd things from time to time so I listened. I was put onto some other guy who then asked whether my husband had paid for Certified Microsoft Security Protection Level 6. I had no idea so he said he thought not as I did not have the ability the right click on the errors and delete them so I should pay@£110 to have it installed and benefti from a years technical support. I said I would ring my husband in Switzerland and see if he wanted me to proceed as this obviously could be a scam but I was told they were authorised by the UK government and given registration numbers, adressses and phone numbers to reassure me. However I insisted on speaking to my husband who obviously said do nothng unitl I get back! Half an hour later I was rung back so I said we were not prepared to pay out over the phone before investigating further and my husband would deal with it. He is supposed be ringing back tomorrow at 7:30! Good luck to him if my husband is home by then.
    HOwever I am worried that having done the thing that brought up the error codes someone in India was busy getting our confidential data off our computer as I did not shut the computer down whilst trying to explian to the guy that I couldn’t part with any money as this could be a scam! Does anyone know if this is possible? I am so daft!

  18. Posted by Notthatgulible August 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I have one of these calls today. Kept them chatting for a good 20 minutes at least (never once even turning on my computer). I can see how convincing this would be to even the most sceptical people (they conned my dad into it and thats no easy task!). But on questioning them fully about what details they had of me (only what you could get from a phone book!), what antivirus software I had (they didn’t know but said it had been breached!), what the malicious data was that had has been corrupted my computer (they said it didn’t have a name and they couldn’t give me the details of what it was!). They clearly have researched enough to sound convincing but couldn’t give any technical information at all…….They didn’t even make the effort to make up some – I wouldn’t have had a clue! haha.

    I really shouldn’t waste my time winding these people up, but it wastes their time that they could be using to con unsuspecting people so maybe it helps someone else!

  19. Posted by James August 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Finally had my first call of this nature today. It went something along the line of..

    Me: Hello
    Caller: Hello. I’m calling from Microsoft and you have viruses on your computer. Could you turn on your computer.
    Me: I have Ubuntu
    Caller: No that’s your internet provider.
    Me: No it’s not. I have Ubuntu.
    Caller: Let me passs you on to my supervisor
    Me: Hello?
    Caller: Hello. You have viruses on your computer. I’m calling from (inaudible).
    Me: The ;ast person said she was calling from Microsoft. Was she a liar?
    Caller: Yes. Could you turn on your PC please?
    Me: I have Ubuntu.
    Caller: Could you turn on your computer please.
    Me: I have Ubuntu.
    Caller hangs up.

    I run windows 7 with security essentials. Please don’t fall for this scam.

  20. Posted by james Eadie August 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    This guy called Gupta went on for an hour, I was off work with the cold so I thought beats watching Jeremy Kyle, he went on and on and told me that apocolyptic disaster would befall me with amagedon following in hot persuit. I thought I had trouble with a runny nose and the male brazilain prostitute on the other phone. Nevertheless I went along with this guys phrophcies of doom listening intently of the cataclysmic disaster which would now unfold.
    He went on asking me to run event manager, etc which I knew due to my unashamable lifestyle that thousands of naughty web site access addresses, of encyclopedia britanica would be highlighted. After an hour of pretending to do what I was told he put me on to Mr Dim Witt chief technical manager, who told me his time was more valuable than the brazilian prostitute now at the bottom of my bed and to sort this ther would b a charge of 175.00 pounds sterling with no VAT,, , it was then I told him I had Apple Mac’s he called me a effin lair cast doubt on my parents being born out of wed lock then hung up.
    If that isn’t bad customer service I dont know what is …Me am going back to Jayne the cross dresser from ayr

  21. Posted by Brenda Leigh August 29, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I’ve been getting these calls alot lately. Tonight I asked whom “she” worked for, when I asked again she said “I was bad”. Told them if they call again, I was going to report them.

    Next time I’ll do the air horn bit. Very frustrating!

  22. Posted by JR September 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Got a simular call Friday night. My wife answered and he called her by her first name. He said are computer was posting errors over the internet and he could help fix them. She turned over to me and he called me by my first name. I asked him a few questions then told him that I didn’t believe him and never to call back again. Sounded like he was from India.

  23. Just got a phone call, the guy sounded european though, I just hung up…. Wish I didnt though, it would have web fun messing around with him.

  24. Posted by Paul September 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Do what I have done in the past, tell them you have to turn on the p.c. and can they wait as it takes a while to boot up. Keep telling them it’s almost ready, just a bit longer and then play stupid when they ask you to open things like event viewer or when they try to get you to install remote software. Then when you sense they are on the verge of hanging up, tell them you are not stupid and that you know this is a scam and you hope they have fun explaining a long distance phone call that has taken ages with no end result <;o)

  25. Posted by Paul H September 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve just had the same call. I’ve tried in the past to point out that either I’m microsoft qualified or that I don’t use Windows (Linux user) and had loads of verbal abuse.. Today I tried a different approach. Tell them that you’ve just got home and need to start computer. Put handset down and get back after 15 minutes. They call back and then pass you onto a ‘technician’ say it’s still booting….they wait…and wait….told them I’d give up and re-install windows….. they say they’ll cal back…so far I’ve had them on the phone for 30 minutes waiting whikst I go and have a coffee and a smoke….just don’t give a cell phone number when they ask lol If they want to waste my time… I can waste their’s, just keep putting them on hold :-)

  26. Posted by Paul H September 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Finally had a call back. Asked them if they’d tried to access my computer as I now have a BSOD (blue screen of death)… got passed to a ‘senior technician’ and asked the same question. He asked me to turn PC off an dback on, I told him I had already done that several times and now had the error
    0x000000BS…the guy on the phone is talking BS….he said ‘oops yes I understand’ and put the phone down.

    Not too bad. just over half an hour of their time and phone costs wasted result :-)

  27. Posted by Rach2501 November 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Katie,

    Don’t worry your not daft & no IT UNLIKELY they have any access to your data without you downloading the software they would have wanted you to download. If you hve not went ahead & downloaded anything you should be ok but get your husband to check it out.
    I nearly fell for this scam as they phoned my me & I thought it was dodgy but phoned my boyfriend to check.
    Best advice I’ve been given is microsoft ect wouldn’t ever call you.
    Best response I’ve seen – Say you are the burglar of the house they’ve phoned, so you the wrong person to talk to!

  28. Posted by Jasmine March 8, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Hi,Private Owner,

    I had the same call. I got his name and found him on the Indian site as a tech. I bet he was surprised causr I emailed him at the Indian college where he was talking to me. I am furious because this is the second time they have done this to me. I shut down on him when I finally realized because he sounded like the fake man who did this to me last year. It cost me a boat load of money to get my computer working properly. I wish the USA would not allow India into our network! They have bilked thousands of dollars from us unsuspecting people. Last year the woman from India bragged to me that she had all my financial information and if I did not pay up they would take the money out of my bank accounts. This time I was able to trace this man to his college in India. I think there should be a way for our country to block Indian people from coming into our computers and putting stuff into microsoft. They tell me they take all my emails and use them to take on my friends who have computers and emails on my computer.

  29. Posted by Ruth March 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Yesterday I had a frantic call urging me to get to my computer IMMEDIATELY. He identified himsel as a number of Technicians authorized by Windows to make a repair to a number of computers they identified as being infected with a vicious trojan horse which can not be detected by anti virus programs. I told him I wanted to call him back and needed verification. He gave me a long number which according to him would be located inside my computer and only Windows would have this number. I urged me to verify this. I was suspicious but figured I could check the authenticity of the number quickly. By then he had called his supervisor because I was reluctant. While turning on my laptop he kept urging me indicating dire consequences if I did not hurry. It took a while. He told me to right click on the windows icon. I did and a box with three letters appeared. He gave me a different set of letters to type in and informed me the screen would turn black for a second. I really didn’t feel right about this. I think I typed in a different set of numbers he gave me, I was so concerned. Immediately a warning box came up on the screen covered partially by Norton virus scan program and a Norton red flag. I told them I would run a virus scan before proceeding and by then they had hung up already. They had a very heavy Indian accent.

  30. Posted by legofreak157890 April 27, 2013 at 1:52 am

    About 2 days ago I got a call from an indian lady claiming to be from microsoft. She said that I was downloading microsoft software illegaly and should stop. Then I said just hang on a minute ad then she hung up. :{

  31. Posted by Drakkona July 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    They called and told me that the INF folder in WINDOWS stood for infections (an obvious lie) and that I needed to let them access my computer remotely and fix it using some weird software. I knew for a fact that INF stood for information, as in hardware information, not “infections”. What did they take me for? My grandmother had talked to them before, and they said they were from Microsoft, then later she asked if they were from AT&T and they said “yes”. It seems they aren’t very smart. If anything WAS wrong with my computer, my anti-virus could detect it.>:)

  32. Posted by George M July 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Just got same kind of call. Maybe if you could understand the heavy accent it might be at least plausable. Said he was from “Windows”. Said my computer was hacked. I hung up. He called again, I hung up. He called AGAIN ! This time I told him that I was recording the conversation, and that if he called back, I would call the authorities. He blurbed out something regarding the FBI. Wow … a company by the name of “Windows” is working with the FBI because my computer was hacked. I didn’t know I was that important. I told him again (he was a very poor listener) that I was recording the conversation … He said something (don’t know if it was english or what), and hung up. If this guy called my grandmother, I can be at ease, because my grandmother would have not been able to understand a word he said. Sounded like your typical customer support agent !!!!!

  33. Posted by Lyncarol September 5, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I had fun with the guys- they both spoke with an indian accent and claimed they were from Microsoft windows and they wanted to help me because of all these terrible things that was going to happen to my computer! I led them to believe I was a crazy old invalid hillbilly woman (part of this is true) who allowed my cat to walk all over my 15 year old computer, but was so glad he called because I was lonely.” I kept pecking away on the counter or dresser while I folded and put away 2 baskets of clothes, and was running up and down the stairs with them on speaker phone. The first guy grew tired of me because of my “hearing problem” when I would repeat things differently than what he was saying, but he couldn’t hang up because “I lived on my computer and had all kinds of stuff on there!” So he got his tech manager on there who said – how can I help you? I said well since he was calling me to volunteer his help I asked him “if he could come mow my lawn?” The next time he insisted on helping me, I asked him “if he could vacuum? – cause my cat had long hairs and they were everywhere! At one point I asked him to put someone on there that could speak English – real good! He was insulted by this and went on about how good his English was. I said well there was one thing I was good at and that was the computer and maybe he needed my help since they had called me. After a half hour Richard (but I insisted on calling him “Ricky boy”) grew tired of me cause I was crazy and kept pushing the wrong buttons on the computer (which wasn’t even on)and he started encouraging ME to hang up, but I’d say – nay I thought he was a sweet little man and I was soooo lonely and I was so glad he called! I finally asked him for his phone number and I said he would be the first one I’d call if I ever did have computer problems. The phone number he gave me was a 304 area code and I said – well, by golly you’re from WV too and asked him what city he lived in. He mumbled something that sounded like Huntsville and I said – did you say you’re in the hospital? you poor, poor thing – having to call and help old women like me while he was sick, that was such a shame – and poof- he was gone. He hung up. And I laughed my head off while my husband just shook his head. I hope one of them calls again tonight!

  34. Posted by A Victim September 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I am an Indian and ashamed by what is happening. I also got a call from “Windows” about y computer being affected. After keeping them on hold and acting as if I am trying to get my computer started got them to a stage where they were frustrated. This guy ( he is from India and also from the Eastern part of india, I heard them talking in Bengali) was so annoyed that he said that I need to take care of my laptop now as this would crash in the nect 2 hrs because of the “mal-a-wares”. I asked him if he was an astrologer and he hung up. Atleast wasted 40 mins of their time.

    But I feel disgusted and really ashamed that some people from India are doing this, These people should be brought to justice at an international court of justice and should be given the highest level of punishment.

  35. Posted by Carl October 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Hi Everyone

    I have been plagued by these calls and from PPI and charities all claiming to offer me a great service, return or to solve all my problems. My replay is “please put me on your abusive client list, because when you phone again and I tell you to **** off you **** you will not be offended” and I hang up.

    SURPRISE! the phone calls are stopping.

  36. Posted by Lindsay November 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I googled a phone number and I got something that sounds like what all of you are talking about and I went along with it because I wasn’t able to reinstall my Microsoft word they showed me the virus and had me get on a website that let them get on my computer I did that and I let them fix my computer for 265 I haven’t paid yet but since I let them get on my computer what should I do I’m so scared.

  37. Posted by Lee Mathews February 24, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I have been called several times my wife and I both. First, I wouldn’t allow them any access to my PC. They are very aggressive, they will keep calling you back. Insult them, call them scammers, they do not care. I found however that if you say something like Kali (The Indian God of Death) loves you, or look on Wikipedia or on a general google search on what offends these lowlifes. You can make short-work out of them. Indians are offended by quite a lot. Tell them you are in the middle of a steak dinner. (They don’t eat beef).

    I am from Central Maine USA

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