The Tech Support Scammers Known As People Connect Inc. Are Back…. And This Time They Have Hit A New Low….

I’ve previously written about the scumbags known as People Connect Inc. in the past. For those of you who are new here, they’re an Indian based group who perpetuate the tech support scam to extract money from their victims. I came across them a couple of years ago and have been keeping tabs on them ever since as their activities keep popping up in my inbox via people who are their victims. Quite frankly anyone associated with People Connect Inc. specifically, or anyone who does this sort of scam are equal to cockroaches and should be treated as such. As in they need to be exterminated with extreme prejudice.

This is why I feel this way.

Yesterday I got an email from a victim of People Connect Inc. that started out with the words “I wish I read your blog before I foolishly paid these people to fix my computer.” That’s never a good sign. Long story short, This person handed over her credit card info to have these low lives “fix” her computer. Which based on my previous experience with them, and as documented in my report above, they more likely created scenarios that looked like problems that they could “fix.” They then went away for a while and never charged the credit card. But they returned claiming that they wanted to “refund” whatever they supposedly charged to the credit card (Which according to the victim was nothing. My guess is that this was to gain their confidence) to fix some new problems. And demanded this person’s banking details to do it. When this person refused, the scumbag from People Connect Inc. got extremely abusive and then locked this person’s computer. By that I mean that her user account on her Windows 10 PC didn’t have a password, so they added one. And they likely installed remote access software to allow them to do it as I have seen People Connect Inc. do that in the past. Basically, what People Connect Inc. did is a low tech way of holding them hostage to get their banking details so that they could empty their bank account.

What a bunch of scumbags.

This person has since cancelled her credit card and is considering buying a new computer to get up and running again. A bit extreme in my opinion, but I can understand their viewpoint given what has happened to them. This person does have a backup of their data, so at least they won’t lose everything. But how recent that backup happens to be is an open question.

Now the first thing that I will highlight is the fact that this person’s Windows 10 user account didn’t have a password. While I understand that many of you out there want to be able to flip on your computer and bang out that email, you should never, ever compromise your security or it may not end well for you. You should always add a password to the user account that you set up, and you should never set it up to auto login. That way if you come across dirtbags like these, they can’t change your password because they would have to know your password to do it. Which they won’t. You can look at a tutorial like this to walk you through how best to set a password.

PRO TIP: If you want to be secure, you should have an administrative account and a user account. Both with administrative rights. That way if one account gets taken over, you can get back in and reset the password using the other account. And if you really want to be secure, you can set up the user account with less rights than the administrative account. It will be a pain to do anything like install software, but any miscreant who get control of the account won’t be able to do much of anything.

Now let’s say that you have had the user account locked out by scumbags like these. You could try and unlock your account using a method like the ones described here. Or if you are more IT savvy, you could try using the Microsoft Diagnostics And Recovery Toolset to unlock the account. But given the fact that dirtbags like these could have done anything, it may be better to have someone pop out the hard drive, recover your data, then reset the Windows OS back to the way it came out of the box, then reinstall your apps and restore your data (bonus points if you scan it for malware prior to doing that) so that you have no worries going forward.

But the best way to avoid all of this is to not be a victim in the first place. The big hint that this is a scam is that the scammers will likely be pretending they are calling from Microsoft or from “Windows,” “Windows Tech Support” or “Windows Service Center.” or even your ISP.

Fact: 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 like this. The best way to deal with them is to hang up. If you do that, then you will be safe. Period. End of sentence. But if what happens if you get fall for the scam? 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. 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.

There are lots of these tech support scams out there. But People Connect Inc. are the ones that I hear about the most. Clearly they put a lot more time and effort into stealing money from innocent victims than most other scammers of this type. I will continue to expose the activities of People Connect Inc. as well as any other low life dirtbags like these so that the public knows about these people and their illegal activities. And when the public knows about scumbags like People Connect Inc. the scam is way less effective which means that people can worry about one less thing to make their lives difficult.

UPDATE: The user was able to unlock her Windows account using the tips that I provided.

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