Friday, 05 May 2017 09:17

Microsoft Impersonators plague New Zealand Householders with Phone Calls & Talking Scareware

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Racketeers apply two-prong scare threat pincer


 Overseas scammers have stepped up their assault on domestic New Zealand internet users in a two-fold pincer movement. The first pincer is a series of telephone calls that seek to alert the user of the perils that they face from the existence on their computers of unwanted bugs of various descriptions.

This is run in harness now with the placement on the computer of an actual bug that talks back to the user and alerts them to the existence on their computer of viruses in the spyware category that have turned up on the target’s computer the existence of pornography of the most diabolical description.

The threat amounts to--- “you’ll be in trouble if you are caught with this.”

This is then bracketed by more telephone calls that are always from an international 0909 prefix number or 0988. The 0909 prefix is that of Ireland while the 0988 number is a “spoofed” prefix used by telemarketeers to avoid detection.

Computer service houses say that this new concerted campaign has caused immense distress among their more elderly users who are unaware of the measures that such scammers will go to in order to be paid to “fix” the “problem.”

The racket last reached a crescendo two years ago and in recent weeks has again been in ramp up mode in New Zealand.

The objective of the racket is to get the user to open up access to their machine via a series of set-piece instructions which allows the racketeer to secure access as and when required over the longer term to the domestic computer.

The landline-driven racket operates on the assumption that any household that still operates a landline will also be the home of an internet-linked computer and which will therefore run Microsoft applications.

The phone callers stick to their routine even if the recipient explains that they do not have a computer in the first place.

The racket operators are human and are trained to deal with objections including those of the most hostile nature.

Their task is to keep the householder talking with a view to eliciting information that may be useful later on, and which will ideally convince the target to follow their instructions.

The post-prefix numbers are scramble encrypted which means that householders who ring back are greeted by an invalid beep-beep-beep signal.

The cold callers always claim to represent Microsoft or be Microsoft “certified” technicians.

The racket is itself two-fold with the target being persuaded to transfer money to the imposters in order to have the viral infection eliminated and/or to get the access to the user’s bank pass codes.

The racketeers will seek to have “fee” money remitted them via an independent wire transfer service which from their point of view makes the transaction harder to trace, and from the target’s point of view means it can never be recovered.

The addition of the sequestration of the talking spyware into household computers with its vocalised threats introduces a new and heightened level of intensity in the racket.

Netsafe should be a first port of call from those under harassment from the racketeers -0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)

Meanwhile scareware, , as the malware implants are known, and quite recently upgraded to the talk-back delivery, has become increasingly applied by the international criminal gangs behind these rackets.

The scam follows a common pattern. A pop-up shows what appears to be a security scan that falsely detects dangerous or illegal files or programs. In some cases, the bogus warnings say there is porn on your computer. The malicious software may even display pornographic images on the screen. And those pop-up warnings won’t stop until your click the button that says “register now” or “remove all threats.”

Those who do that wind up on a site run by the cyberthieves. It says you need to buy their antivirus program — which is fake — to fix the security problems.

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