Fake IT Services Fraud

Recently MePush has responded to a number of panicked calls that have been a bit out of the ordinary for us. Clients of ours were being or about to be scammed.

The scam is “Fake IT Services” and here’s how it works. Perhaps you misspell a URL you were entering into your web browser, or an ad popped up on a website that does not vet the ads they show as well as we might wish. However it happens, you are presented with a message telling you there are problems with your computer and that you should call the phone number on your screen. When you call this number the person at the other end directs you to download and run a tool called LogMeIn Rescue. This software lets the person at the other end of the phone call view what is on your screen, send files to your computer, control the pointer and send keystrokes to your computer. This is a legitimate tool, one we at MePush have used for years. What is different is that the person controlling your computer is trying to sound like an expert and point out non existent problems on your computer. They will then help you fix these non existent problems if you’ll just provide them with your credit card details. They may also have a subscription for their proactive services available that they would like to get you enrolled in.

Few people have the background knowledge to decipher the techno babble these scammers spout to know that the services being offered are fake. The scammers have also studied human psychology and use a number of triggers to induce panic. These include playing noises like dogs barking and people talking in foreign languages as part of the initial message about errors on your computer. Finally, these scammers have told people that they work for Apple Care or Microsoft Tech Support, organizations that do not publish clear, consistent contact information so it is hard to confirm whom you are talking to. Building confusion, creating panic and misappropriating existing trusts are corner stones of confidence men but what makes these con men so dangerous is they can retreat back into the shadows of 800 numbers and out of state if not out of federal jurisdictions.

A few tips for avoiding scams:

• Microsoft, Google and Apple will not call you to tell you there is a problem with your computer nor will they alert you with a number to call.

• If you feel there is a problem with your computer, please call your regular IT services company.

• Never give your credit card info or passwords to a stranger over the phone. In fact please drop by our office and meet our staff.

• A legitimate IT professional will take as much time as needed to answer your questions and explain jargon to your satisfaction.

• If you feel panicked you are going to make bad choices. Put down the phone. Take a deep breath. Turn of the computer. Walk away until you can get help from someone you know.