Here’s Another Tech Support Scam To Be Aware Of: PC Tech Support

Fresh off the heels of the tech support scam that I documented here, I’ve come across another one. Or more accurately, one of my clients has. This scumbag got in touch with her and tried to drain her credit cards and bank accounts of whatever money he could get yesterday while trying to perform some sort of tech support “services.” My client let him into her computer and only gave him the boot after about an hour when the price went from $99 for his “services” to over a thousand dollars. That’s when she called me. I had a look over her computer and found that he had installed GoToAssist to allow him to take control of her computer remotely, but not much else was done with it. I plan on doing a follow up later this week, but from what I saw yesterday, she seems to have dodged a bullet.

Now the scumbag in question goes by the name of PC Tech Support and the phone number that they were calling from was 1-888-308-3363. I’m pointing this out because if you see this number on the call display on your phone, hang up. I found their website which I will not link to as I do not want to send them traffic. But I will display a screenshot of their website that clearly uses stock clip art:

scum4

That allowed me to look up who owned the domain that they are using:

scumbags

What caught my attention was the organization name which was S.M.O.K.E. Technologies. I did a search of the name and found their LinkedIn page which again, I will not link to. Instead I will display a screen shot of it:

scumbagThe website that they have doesn’t go anywhere. But if you look at where they have locations, they list Gurgaon, which is a city in India that I’ve been to numerous times, and Jaipur-Rajasthan which is where the registration of the domain came from. That cannot be a coincidence. That was confirmed when I came across the company on Gust.com which is India’s service to connect startup companies with investors:

scum

If you look to the right, you’ll see the name Vivek Kosalla. Vivek is the name that’s in the domain registration above. That too cannot be a coincidence. This seems to point toward this company being behind PC Tech Support. And thus being behind this scam.

These guys seem to be rather unsophisticated scammers from a tech standpoint and I would rank them lower than the scumbags that I wrote about earlier this year. But they did try to go to town on my client’s credit card. Which by the way is now cancelled. She also now has credit monitoring just in case they try to steal her identity or something. So these scumbags will walk away with nothing.

Now let me reiterate something that I said the last time I covered a tech support scam. A legitimate company such as Microsoft, Apple, or Google would never call you in this manner. The exception might be your ISP. There’s a minute possibility that your ISP would call you if your computer has been infected with malware that could be sending out something from your computer. If a caller claims to be from your ISP, ask for the caller’s name, where his or her office is located, and for the office telephone number. Ask why you’re being contacted by telephone, what the issue with your computer is and how the ISP could tell it was your PC specifically that had a problem. If a call sounds legit, hang up and call the ISP yourself, then ask for the tech support department or for the person who called you specifically. Use a phone number listed on your ISP’s website or on your bill, not a number that the caller gave you. That way, you could confirm or deny if this is legit.

Now, if you get a call from a scammer. The best way to deal with them is to hang up. But if you want to do the world a favor, do the following….. Though I will not exactly go out of my way to recommend vigilante behavior like this:

  1. The name of the company the scammer claims to work for, and the company’s website, phone number or address. Even the smallest pieces of info can lead one down the road of finding out who the scammers are and you’d be surprised how willing they are to give up this information to try and gain your confidence.
  2. Hang up.
  3. Report it. Microsoft has a Web page dedicated to reporting tech-support scams. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has a website for fielding complaints, while the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center is the place to go if you’re in Canada.

So, what happens if you get scammed? You need to act fast. First, shut down the computer. Then do this:

  1. First download and install legitimate antivirus software. Then, run a scan to see if anything has been left behind. Then change the passwords on the user accounts on your PC. You don’t have passwords on the user accounts? You should precisely for this reason. If you don’t feel comfortable doing any of these items, call an IT expert for help.
  2. If you gave the scammer your credit card number, then you really need to act fast. Call your credit card provider and either reverse the charges or cancel the card (my client did the latter).  Then you should also contact one of the three credit-reporting agencies. Namely Equifax, Experian or TransUnion and ask them to place a free 90-day credit alert on your file. For the record, Experian doesn’t operate in Canada but the other two do. The agency you contact will alert the others and you’ll be notified if someone tries to do something in your name.
  3. Report it.

As you can see, getting hit by a scammer is not a trivial matter. You need to be on your toes to avoid this sort of thing. If you are, then you should never have to worry about the negative effects of being scammed. I hope this information helps to make sure that you are not a victim of something like this.

UPDATE: My client wrote down details about these scumbags. Here’s a photo of what she wrote:

IMG_1072

You’ll see the scumbag’s name and phone number (which works when you dial it by the way). I circled the IP address which is 127.0.0.1 which is a loopback address. As in an IP address that loops back to the machine that you’re on. It could never exist on the Internet. Thus this is another sign that these scumbags are rather unsophisticated. But they don’t have to be as this type of scam is about sounding smart so that they can fleece your bank account as opposed to being smart. The other thing that I should update you on is that S.M.O.K.E. Technologies is located in the same location as the registration above:

scum5.JPG

That’s further proof that they’re the ones behind this tech support scam.

UPDATE #2: I just got a threat from these clowns via e-mail. Here’s my response:

I don’t respond well to threats. And I will continue to shine an uncomfortable spotlight on you or anyone else who runs a scam like this. Oh yeah, thanks for sending the threat by e-mail. The header information on that e-mail will be very interesting for law enforcement to see.

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2 Responses to “Here’s Another Tech Support Scam To Be Aware Of: PC Tech Support”

  1. You will find this two-part podcast interesting:
    https://gimletmedia.com/episode/long-distance/

  2. […] IT Nerd Investigates Two Tech Support Scams: When a pair of my clients got hit by tech support scams based out of India, I took it upon myself to investigate both. I took […]

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