(This post is mainly aimed at people in The Netherlands and its surrounding countries, but it is still in English because those who do not understand English are not a target.)
There is a scam that has been going around for the last five years or so, whereby you get called by someone, usually with a heavy Indian accent, who claims that he (or she) works for Microsoft (or another well-known tech company), and says that he detected that your computer is being hacked (or was infected by a virus). He will then try to gain some credibility by making you start a program that will report some errors on your computer, which he says are proof of his claims. He will then either send you to a website from which you run a program that installs a virus or Trojan on your computer, or even just charges you a considerable amount of money to get some software that will “help you” (i.e., install a Trojan).
This scam was most prevalent in English-speaking countries, but seems to have jumped over to The Netherlands recently. I was called yesterday by someone who started saying (in a heavy Indian accent) that he was from Microsoft. I immediately said that I never called Microsoft so that he was obviously calling a wrong number, and disconnected. He rang again (I could see that it was the same number, 0099991887686 — clearly something like VoIP which is often used by scammers), and I hung up without saying anything. He called again and I immediately told him, quite angrily, that he was calling the wrong number, and disconnected. He called again, and I hung up again. He called again. This time I decided to answer. The call went something like this:
Indian guy: “Sir, I am from Microsoft tech support and I detected that your computer is being hacked.”
Me: “You have the wrong number. Stop calling me.”
Indian guy: “I detected that your computer is being hacked. I am from Microsoft.”
Me: “Even if you could detect that a computer is being hacked, there is no way that you can know which phone number belongs to which computer.”
Indian guy: “Your computer is being hacked, and I…”
Me: “You cannot know that this particular phone number belongs to the owner of my computer!”
Indian guy: “Sir, I am from Microsoft. I know everything.”
At this point I did not know if I should laugh out loudly or become angry. I decided on being angry and shouted that I knew that he was a scammer and that he should not dare to call me again. After that the calls stopped.
I checked the Internet, and evidently the phone number that was used to call me, has been used since about April 9, 2015, to call people in The Netherlands. This is obviously the beginning of a deluge of scam calls that we are going to receive here. In English-speaking countries the scammers probably have gotten to the bottom of the barrel of victims, so they need to expand to countries which are not natively English-speaking, but where most people at least understand it. The Netherlands is an obvious choice.
While this blog does not have a lot of visitors, I think that it is important to give some publicity to what is happening here. Because a considerable number of people will fall for a scam like this — or will at least follow the first steps that the scammer wants them to perform and will end up with an infected computer.
Please remember this: Microsoft, on their website, talks about this scam and says that they will never make spontaneous tech support calls. Any unsolicited support call that you receive will very, very likely be a scam. Do not fall for it! Hang up the phone. If you get another call, only say that you know that it is a scam, and hang up.
Let’s squeeze this one before it gets big, okay?