I came across a new version of the Microsoft Tech support scam today and ended up brightening my day by telling the guy on the other end of the phone that he was going to burn in hell for scamming people. Let’s check it out.
I was innocently surfing the web when this page popped up. Gotta admit, they did a nice job mimicking the Microsoft page right down to the logos and the graphic style. Note the words BLOCKED in giant letters.
I was warned that my computer has been BLOCKED (whatever the heck that means. Because that’s not a thing.) I was threatened with an illegal registration key, suspected of using pirated software, sending a virus, and more.
The number to call what is allegedly Microsoft support is all over the page.
There’s also an alert that files are being downloaded.
There really was a download with an ominous name.
Except this file is a document and not an executable file. Let’s check out the properties by right-clicking.
Clever to name it that, but this file does absolutely nothing.
If you click anywhere on this page the warning box will start flashing and a computer voice will tell you that you have “error number zero by eight zero.” The voice will go on to say that your computer has been infected with pornographic spyware which is not in the process of stealing your bank information, your Facebook information, and locking all of your files. If you don’t immediately call that number, your computer will be ‘blocked’ and they will be forced to send your IP address to law enforcement. You are reminded over and over again to call the number so their software engineers can walk you through removing the virus.
This is all garbage. Your computer is not locked or blocked. You probably will have a hard time getting off that page, but that’s only because the pop-up ad that’s taken over your browser is not showing you the legitimate way to exit it. Just close the page at the top or close your browser and you’ll be done with it. It’s not really a virus, your computer is not actually locked up.
Ya’ll know how I love to toy with scammers. I called the number and played along with a guy who told me three different times that he was from Microsoft. After he spent a good ten minutes attempting to both get me to give him remote access to my computer and give him my credit card number, I told him I was a tech journalist and was well aware it was a scam. He spent another five minutes trying to convince me otherwise. Then I began to scream at him. My voice is super-super loud. When I did the second-grade play, I didn’t need a microphone. I informed him that he was certainly going to hell for scamming the vulnerable and asked him just how he planned on explaining himself to God. Good times.
This is a scam. Anything like it is a scam. I know the voice yelling that your PC is about to be blocked and the flashing warning is scary. But it’s all fake. So don’t let that fear response prompt you to do something stupid. But if you are looking for something fun to do, go ahead and call the tech support number and waste their time. Then blow a whistle.