8

About a hour ago I received a call from a suspicious phone number. They explained that they had received an alert from my PC and needed to gain access to correct the problem before my PC was "downloaded" which was getting ready to start in a few minutes. I played along and they walked me to the event viewer where they proceeded to ask me to open the Administrative Events and asked me to see if there were any warnings or errors because this was supposed to show me that I was indeed already infected and they were there to help. At this point the phone was passed to another person on their end that didn't speak with as heavy an accent and then they muffled the phone and began to argue, at which time I hung up. After I hung up they called back a couple of minutes later but I didn't bother to answer.

My question is, now that I have this number whats the chance that it was spoofed, the number is from Saint Paul, Minnesota area. Also, has anyone come across this before and what was it they were going to ask me to do next to try and access my PC? I might be able to put something in place to lock out any other attempts. I wish so bad I had kept them on the line longer.

As an update, not much of an edit, I think what I found was in the second answer with the honey pot idea. Thank you Andre for the suggestion.

  • If this was indeed a attempt to infiltrate your system via a social engineering tactic, then it could of been possible they were looking to access your system. My only question is how did they get your number to call? did you call them? The number looks to be used as proxy. – Cameron Verotti Dec 17 '15 at 19:58
  • If they were attempting illegal activity, then it is very likely the number was spoofed. And you can tell it's fake because of the "will start in a few minutes". Why would a virus wait to do what it wants, and how would they know that? – TTT Dec 17 '15 at 20:01
  • I thought it was possibly spoofed but wanted to see if maybe someone had gone a little further than I did . He called me, and this call has come to 2 others on the IT crew I am on, but, it was awhile ago for the other 2. – Eddie Studer Dec 17 '15 at 20:11
  • 2
    What would really be crazy is if they were running this scam in order to see if someone, like me, posted to a site about it in order to gain another piece of info for which they could potentially exploit – Eddie Studer Dec 17 '15 at 20:19
  • 1
    We can't possibly know the answer to your questions. We can only guess. – schroeder Dec 17 '15 at 20:34
14

This is a basic and quite popular scam that uses social engineering to make gullible people believe there's something wrong with their computer in order to sell them some fake security solution and/or possibly steal data from the machine in the process.

The scammers are often based in India and use VoIP providers to call at cheap rates and appear as a local number, and for card processing they obviously use shady payment gateways that don't mind this illegal activity.

Most of the social engineering works by making the user open the event viewer and telling him that the errors in there (which are often benign and to be expected on such a complex OS like Windows with so much services running) are critical and mean that remote attackers are trying to take over the computer. They will then get the user to download a Remote Desktop server like TeamViewer (but TV has a warning specifically against these social engineering attacks so they fall back to some other, less known remote desktop solutions that have no such warnings) to take control of the computer and further show that the machine is in bad shape, sometimes by opening a command prompt and copy/pasting some command that produces lots of output with something scary appended at the end like the "tree" command with the text Warning: computer infected. Attacker's IP: 192.168.1.1 after it, which causes the window to list every single file of the system and display the text at the end as if it was part of the command's output, which unfortunately is an effective scare tactic. Once the user is convinced they make him go to their webpage to buy a solution which is often a fake security product, and assuming that's done I suppose they either just leave or install a rogue (fake antivirus). Note that most remote desktop services include a way to silently transfer files that can be used to exfiltrate confidential data from the victim's computer in addition to exfiltrating their money.

There are a lot of these scam calls posted on YouTube, you can look up "tech support scam" on there if you want. You can also play with them by setting up a virtual machine; just try to make it a bit fun (like creating actual malware, disguising it as a "passwords.txt.exe" with a text document icon and hope the idiots steal the file and run it on their computer).

  • 2
    I like this answer. I think this is exactly what I'm going to do. So you are saying set up a honey pot they can have their way with but infect the piss out of it in order to turn the tables. That's awesome!!!. Thank you for the idea. I will discuss with the team how we want to go about this and how to isolate it from the rest of the network. – Eddie Studer Dec 18 '15 at 3:40
3

My question is, now that I have this number whats the chance that it was spoofed, the number is from Saint Paul, Minnesota area.

Spoofing, or registration tricks?

It's very easy to "spoof" a number with any area code you want. It's not really spoofing, it's just a registration trick. You could walk into Wal-Mart and buy yourself a $30 disposable StraightTalk smartphone, go to an open WiFi, and register it. It will ask you where you're registering from, and where you plan on using it from the majority of the time.

After you create a Google Play account on the open WiFi, you can easily switch to a VPN to make it look like you're in that area.

After that, you will be asked to register the phone. You could enter any fake address and usage area, and it will give you an area code and phone number for that particular set of information you provided. You can register a fake name, fake address, new, fake email address, etc.

And it looks like you're coming from another state. Heck, even if you're in another state, most of your google search results will be for the area you registered in. Your IP address will be detected as being from that area, even if you aren't there. Geolocation will still show you to be in that general area, as long as apps aren't able to access your current location.

It works the same way in most countries as well. You'll appear to be from the registered area, even if you aren't.

Also, has anyone come across this before and what was it they were going to ask me to do next to try and access my PC? I might be able to put something in place to lock out any other attempts. I wish so bad I had kept them on the line longer.

What are they trying to do?

Usually, this is a cheap social-engineering trick to get you to buy a faulty product, or steal your information, or both, but I can't really tell you for sure since you didn't stay in touch.

There could be a million different things that they wanted to do. Maybe they're trying to dial random numbers, and are looking for specific errors in your computer. If these errors show up, it may be vulnerable to a specific exploit. But then they'd have to be dumb because this can be automated with a mass scanner.

Maybe they want to sound professional, and since most people don't know about the EventLog, they can trick you into thinking they're knowledgeable and should be trusted.

Or maybe they're trolling you?

Who knows... but I'll leave you with this piece of advice:

Never trust anyone who calls you up and wants to do something with your computer, if you haven't already asked them to do so.

protected by schroeder Dec 17 '15 at 22:31

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.