So, the telephone rings, I answer it, and a lady introduces herself as ‘Michelle’, which, for someone with such a heavy Indian accent, is odd but not necessarily untrue. Michelle tells me she is ringing from Microsoft about the security risk posed by my computer, which, again, is odd, as I like to think of myself as pretty tech-savvy and keep my anti-virus, firewall, malware alerts, etc. up to date. Still, Michelle is from Microsoft, so I listen as she tells me how my computer is flagging up security alerts at Microsoft HQ, but she can talk me through how to fix it – which is very nice of her. Right, Michelle tells me to look for a Windows symbol at the bottom left of my screen, (it’s called a Start button, Michelle, but coming from Microsoft, you’d know that, wouldn’t you?), left click on it and then look for My Computer or Computer. OK, you can see that, so now right click on that, and look for Manage. OK, you see that, left click on it. Which I do. OK, now describe what you can see – OK, you can see Event Viewer, so can you left double click on that? Yes, Michelle, I can do that. Now, you see the little menu, does it have something called Custom Views? Yes, good, can you left click that? Does it say Administrative Events? Could you please click on that? Now, has a log opened up in the middle of the window? Can you scroll down and tell me which there are more of, Errors or Warnings?
OK, you get the picture. Try it on your own computer. Looks scary, doesn’t it? All those red exclamation marks and yellow triangles, all those Error and Warning alerts. Well, a nice lady called Michelle can get rid of them for you. All you need to do is go to her website and download a special program. That will remove all the nasties in your computer. Except it won’t. What it will do is give Michelle control over your computer. That’s right, Michelle in India will be able to look in all your folders, root about and read all your files, install anything she feels like, and copy whatever she wants. Like your financial stuff. And your personal details. She will be able to copy your identity. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
This scam was doing the rounds a couple of years ago, and it looks like it’s back.
I didn’t fall for it and hung up halfway through, but lots of people get taken in, and, it seems, then go on to pay Michelle and her chums for the service, from a few quid up to about a thousand pounds. And if she couldn’t find your credit card details on your laptop, she has them now. Do not ever – ever – let anyone take remote control of your computer. Tell your friends and family about the scam. Forewarned is forearmed.
Here is a handy website
If you ring 1471 and get a number, enter it in and read what other people have to say. I did. Michelle was ringing from 002063971126. Naughty Michelle.