Steve Bennett blogs

…about maps, open data, Git, and other tech.

Windows red cross errors scam


We have noticed many red cross errors!

I just received an interesting phone call, apparently from a group of Indian scammers. It went roughly like this. (Phrases in bold are things I jotted down during the call)

  • Hello, I’m Caroline from the Computer Technical Department at Windows Best Help [or Windows Based Help, perhaps]. We’re calling to alert you that for the past four weeks you’ve been receiving red cross errors, which mean you’re subject to internet viruses, and hackers that are trying to break into your computer. Your address is [my address], correct?

Throughout this, I give non-committal “mmm, yes” responses.

  • We’re connected through the Global IT Server. This just an awareness call,¬†nothing to do with telemarketing.
  • Now, go to the home page of your browser.
  • Now press Windows-R, and type “cookies“. [Actually, long description of how to find the Windows key, and spelling out “cookies” in radio code. The first “o” was orange, the second was Oscar.]
  • Now, do you see all those files and folders? All the work you’re doing is stored in those files as a double coded check up.

I’m calling from the Computer Technical Department at Windows Best Help. This has nothing to do with telemarketing!

At this point, she transferred me to her “technical supervisor”. He gave me his name, but I didn’t quite catch it – something like Armin. I asked where they’re based – Kolkata.

  • Are you in front of your computer now? [I admitted that, no, the phone was in a different room.]
  • But I believe that you told Caroline that you were typing the commands and could see the results? [Interesting…I had led her to believe that. Is their operation so small that he listens to the whole conversation?]

Some confusion followed, where I offered to go and run the command for real. I told him to hold the line for a minute, while I went and did it. When he came back, the line was dead. Oops.

I’ve heard of this scam before, but it was entertaining to see it in operation. Too bad I didn’t get to see where it led.

2 responses to “Windows red cross errors scam

  1. hackerdeathwish June 5, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I received a similar call today – caller ID was unavailable / unknown. They asked for my wife by name. When I started asking ‘what…’, they hung up.

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