11 Replies Latest reply: Dec 18, 2013 5:34 PM by BDAqua
Dylanmusic Level 1 (0 points)

Recently my mother who is 90 was a victim of a computer scam. She was told on the phone that

she had to type in certain things into the computer and then pay $499 to prevent it from crashing.

She didn't give them her password but she did type in somethings which she doesn't remember

but I suspect that the hackers who claimed to be from Microsoft in India may now be able to control

her computer remotely. I have been receiving spam e-mails from her e-mail address but she hasn't

initiated any of the e-mails. She has a Gateway Intel computer and I have a MAC. Is my computer

vulnerable to any viruses that may come from her computer? What kind of technical help should she

seek in order to get rid of her present problem? I assume the hackers will send spam to all of the

people in her book. Luckily she didn't give them any financial info and doesn't do any online banking

but I I guess if she ever used a credit card to buy something, that can be picked up by the hackers.

Although she didn't give them her password, should she have her password changed? Any advice

would be greatly appreciated.

  • BDAqua Level 10 (121,620 points)

    Yes, to be safe, have her change all her passwords.


    Not likely you will be infected, but spam of course usually contains malware.


    Sounds like maybe she gave them her email, or username, or such?


    Tough to tell if they got into her computer or not, did/does she have really good passwords? I recently read that about 50% of users had one of 20 common passwords.


    Did they have her download anything? Was there any notice on her end of them controlling her computer?


    http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-24/news/42326712_1_computer-tech-virus-phone- number

  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,595 points)

    Sadly such scams are becoming all too common. They can also arrive by email, in which case:


    Learn how to identify fraudulent "phishing" email:


    How to report phishing scams to Apple:

    via email to:  reportphishing@apple.com

  • a brody Level 9 (65,375 points)

    This is one of the many reasons posting your e-mail in a public place is highly discouraged.  The spammers and phishers look through search engines for valid e-mail addresses, and spoof them as the sender.

  • Dylanmusic Level 1 (0 points)

    They already knew her e-mail address when they called her. She didn't give them her password or any other info

    but it was definitely a "weak" password. The only sign of a problem was that people in her address book received spam from her e-mail address that she did not send. They did ask her to type in some commands but she doesn't remember what they were. She recalls typing in numbers while holding down "control". They were able to post a

    form on her screen with her name and address on it. They asked her to type her credit card # on the form but

    she didn't it. She has the standard Norton virus protection. Does she need more than that?

  • BDAqua Level 10 (121,620 points)

    Hmmm, do you think it was a URL she typed in? Any idea how many numbers it was?


    Norton isn't going to cover all problems, but has she run a scan since then?


    Did everybody in her addressbook start getting spam?  If so they may have gotten in, did she have File Sharing or screen sharing enabled?

  • Dylanmusic Level 1 (0 points)

    Anything is possible as to what she typed in. I'll have to ask her again and see if she recalls any more info. She only has a very rudimentary knowledge of the computer so she wouldn't even know if File sharing or screen sharing was enabled. Before this happened she certainly didn't initiate any activities that go beyond the simplest

    tasks like looking at You Tube, sending e-mails and browsing the internet. Not everyone in her address book got spam and she has only a few people in her book like me, her grandchildren and one or two friends. So far only I got a spam from her e-mail address but I haven't talked to the other people yet. What's interesting is that a friend

    of hers got the same phone call from an Indian man claiming to be from Microsoft only a week ago with the same exact baloney. That friend actually paid for the phony virus protection which they "reduced" from $499 to $199.

    She gave them her credit card # after she called a number to verify the story. This scenario made my my mother think that the call that she herself received was legit because of her friend's experience. Here's the rub: My mother hasn't spoken to the friend since this happened and I'm willing to bet the farm that the number her friend

    called was a number given to her by the hackers!!! Also: They probably got info about my mother from her friend and that's why she became a target. She hasn't run a scan yet but she is getting a nerd form Geek Squad to come over and "sweep" her computer and change her password to more complex one.

  • BDAqua Level 10 (121,620 points)

    Ah, I see, but not heard any really good things about Geek Squad myself.

  • Limnos Level 8 (46,035 points)

    In the past month I have gotten about 15 phone calls from those people.  Sometimes when I tell them I have a Mac they shut up, often they don't seem to get what a Mac is and persist in telling me my computer is cuaing problems on the Internet. If you ask them what it is doing they cant/don't seem able to tell you specifics.  I once let asked them what they wanted me to do.  They told me to hold down my Windows key and some other.  I told them I couldn't see a Windows key.  They said looks in the lower left (or something).  I said I still couldn't see one but I saw one with an Apple on it.  They finally got the message but I still get calls from them at least once a week.  It's probably some robo dialing system that cycles through phone numbers 000 000-0000 on.  Now my politeness patience is at an end and I just hang up on them (once I got an immediate call-back; they just don't learn).


    Do a web search for "India your computer is causing problems on the Internet" or something like that and you'll many others getting these calls.  Probably nothing legally can be done about them since the Do Not Call lists are not international.  What they do is have you download some quite legal remote log-in software so they can "repair" your computer.  One person just to see what would happen let them into his (PC) computer. He said he then annoyed the callers by turning them down at the last minute when they asked for upfront payment ($200 as you said).  That made them mad and he said he watched as system files started disappearing and eventually one network critical on was deleted and he was kicked offline.


    If they were let into a computer I would wipe the whole thing.


    I get very few calls so I can say 40% of  my last month's calls came from India and another 40% came from "Rachel" saying she had a very important message from Cardholder services about my credit card being in good condition but it was important I talk to them about a valuable opportunity to reduce my interest rates....

  • rccharles Level 5 (7,075 points)

    Sometimes ... it's easier to re-install windows.


    It was a scam.  Microsoft doesn't call people up.  I've had to hang up on two of these folks.  You get more trusting as you get older.  You want to be helpful to others.


    The spam might be coming from the neighbors email list.


    Don't worry much about your mac.  There are not many if any in the wild mac malware.  You won't be able to run the windows stuff.


    I'd advise the neighbor to re-install windows.  Call the credit card company and see if they can cancel the payment.  Say it was fraud.


    Could have been a web address. Holding down control then pressing enter puts you into a new browser window. Could have been a bunch of numbers to get around web blocking.  Instruct her to always call you before accepting any advice about her computer.  My parents at one time had an idea that they should follow the advice of their isp on upgrading there machine.  The advice was about Windows when they had a mac.



  • John Galt Level 8 (44,615 points)

    One person just to see what would happen let them into his (PC) computer.


    Here's the story:


    http://blog.malwarebytes.org/fraud-scam/2013/04/phone-scammers-call-the-wrong-gu y-get-mad-and-trash-pc/


    It's entertaining, or tragic, depending on one's perspective.


    (Aside to Dylanmusic): There is no reason the same exact scam can't be perpetrated on a gullible Mac user.

  • BDAqua Level 10 (121,620 points)

    Thanks John, interesting read!