I received one of these calls last week. I'll explain after the article. ---- âSandyâ phoned me on Monday. I was surprised to hear from him. It had been a few years since we last spoke, and when we last did Sandy was calling himself âJackâ or âPeterâ or âNigel.â But on Monday it was Sandy, and Sandy launched into a familiar shtick about how he was a âtechnicianâ with âMicrosoft Windowsâ and that there was a glitch with my computer, an error, he said, and one easily remedied if I would just hand over remote access to my laptop so he could work his magic. Sandy, when I asked, said he was calling from California. More likely he was calling from India or Bangladesh, the twin nerve centres of the âWindowsâ scam that has been circulating among Canadian consumers for six years now, costing the unlucky dupes among us tens of millions of dollars. Daniel Williams is the senior call taker with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and an expert in the world of phone-scam skullduggery. âThe calls Canadians keep receiving are coming from illegal call centres in India and Bangladesh and, for all we know, there could be illegal call centres in Canada targeting people in Australia with this scheme since scammers, worldwide, want to put as many borders as they can between them and their victims,â Mr. Williams says. âDistance works to their advantage on so many levels â there is a lot of red tape if you have to get victim statements from one country to another â and it will always be an issue and the bad guys know it.â The Microsoft scam is sinister in its simplicity. Most Canadians own a home computer. Most have scant knowledge of their machineâs inner workings. Most have listed phone numbers â which is all a scammer needs to make initial contact. Thousands of Canadians will go to their graves never knowing they were scammed But the real artistry in the fraud is found among the most polished of scammers, the true pros, who know their computer stuff and can convince a mark to give them remote access to their machine. Then they plant a glitch on the machine which they will then fix while, in many cases, charging the grateful âcustomerâ a relatively modest sum, say $40 â 200, for their services. Some fraudsters will spend over an hour on the phone with a target, occasionally inviting multiple technicians onto the line to dispense advice, while wrestling out the planted problem and providing the illusion that the poor old sucker at the end of the line has been treated to Five Star repair service â before asking them for their credit card information to settle up the bill. Wow, I had three technicians working on the problem for an hour and half and it only cost me 40 bucks. âThousands of Canadians will go to their graves never knowing they were scammed,â Mr. Williams says. âAnd the [scammers] look like knights in shining armour for repairing the damage. At the end of the day, if they get 35-40 bucks out of you, in Bangladesh â that is a kingâs ransom. âEven if there is another problem with their computer a week later a Canadian consumer will be thinking, âWow, I had three technicians working on the problem for an hour and half and it only cost me 40 bucks.â âAnd they are quite happy because they were expecting to be charged more.â Some victims have been targeted eight times before clueing in. Some never do clue in. And there is no stereotypical dupe. It is not just little old ladies in dressing gowns who barely know how to plug in the DVD player falling for these dirty tricks. It is the old, the young and, says Mr. Williams, actual computer technicians being taken for a ride by phoney technicians. There is ugly underbelly to the criminal enterprise, too. Old school scammers knew when to give up â when you hung up the phone on them. But the new age scammers, when thwarted, have been known to keep calling back, especially if their target is a woman. Verbal threats are not uncommon. Civility among seedy-types appears to be dead. âThings can get really nasty,â Mr. Williams says. Sandy didnât get nasty with me. He panicked, as I pressed ahead, asking him where he went to school and if there was a phone number where I could call him back. Then I told him I was taping our conversation and would be calling the police. Sandy whined: âNo, no, no.â And then Sandy hung up, though I imagine one of his friends will be calling me back soon. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com...m-a-grift-that-keeps-giving-for-cyber-crooks/ ---- It's not just people in Canada getting these calls. I received one right here in Texas on my home phone line last week. The caller said he was with Microsoft and my computer had contacted him about some problem and he wanted access to my computer to make a software fix. His English wasn't perfect and I at first laughed and told him my computer hasn't sent any message to Microsoft (I always deny any software I install from being able to send info for survey purposes or any other). He insisted that it had and continued on. He was very persistent. Thinking maybe there was a very slim chance this is legit I wasn't going to give anyone access to my computer over the internet that I didn't know (I don't recall what the caller ID said). So, I said give me a phone number and a name where I can reach you and I'll call you back when I have time (thinking I would check this out at Microsoft). That's when the phone went 'click' and that was the end of it. After reading this article I now know what the scam is all about. So be careful when you get this call - and you probably will.