Prolateral Consulting Ltd
Prolateral Consulting Ltd

phone scamsThere are some sneaky, scare-mongering, technically competent scammers out there: and they have YOUR telephone number. It happened to me - and I'm certain that there are others that have fallen for it otherwise they wouldn't be in business. Read on...

Whilst sat at my computer at home during the week, the house phone rang. Not in itself a strange occurrence - I do have friends - but it's rare to ring during the work-day and we are on the Telephone Preference Service's list so that we don't get cold-sales calls.

It was a charming gentleman with an Indian sub-continental accent, probably in a call-centre judging by the background hubbub. He told me that he was from a company called "Fix On Click" and had been given my details by Microsoft Support engineers, as my computer was infected with unwanted software and it was sending information to the Internet. Impressive and scary stuff!

I took his name, which was (apparently) Patrick Barker. My primary aim was to find out the name of his company so that I could point the TPS and OfTel at his company as he shouldn't have been calling me; but his allegation that MY computer was infected and sending stuff out was intriguing.

Lies, Damned Lies and Telephone Scammers

I pushed him on how he had got my details and apparently (according to Patrick) every time Microsoft Windows says 'An error has occurred' and I report the error to Microsoft, they get my details so that an engineer can contact me (Untruth Number 1 - no personal details are passed when a report is sent, and Microsoft wouldn't give them out anyway). 

I decided to go with the flow, play the 'average home PC user' - using a protected Virtual Windows XP machine and see which way this would go... I did tell him (in the spirit of fairness) that my computer was fully patched, protected and firewalled, and I was sure that all was fine - but no, Patrick knew that wasn't the case!

I asked where his company was based - Victoria, London apparently - and if he could provide me with contact details. I won't include a link here - I don't wish to help their Google ranking - but Fix On Click (FixOnClick123 dot com) does indeed have a UK and a US phone number. In these modern days of VOIP phones this means nothing of course, and the complete lack of any other contact address, company registration number etc. rang the already-ringing alarm bells even louder.

He talked me (very competently) into typing 'INF VIRUS' into the Run box. Now THERE'S a misleading way to open a completely harmless folder on the PC. It opens the C:WINDOWSINF folder, which Patrick told me was all Viruses. He explained that these files were clogging up my computer (I have over 200GB free - so I wasn't unduly distressed) -- and that Windows would run perfectly fine without them (Untruth Number 2 - Some files are superflous, but you need most of them). I declined his offer to let me delete them, explaining that I'd rather leave them where they were.

Is your computer secure from data theftThe brass neck of this company was starting to impress and shock me.

A local phone number means absolutely nothing

While talking to Patrick I googled around a bit to find out about the company. It just reinforced my suspicion that he had the same chance of being in Victoria that I have of seeing Uluru from my bedroom window.  The website is hosted in Pune, India, the domain was registered and DNS served from India.

He then (again competently) got me go and view the Event Logs via Control Panel -- and asked me if there were any errors in there. Apparently (according to Patrick) any errors in any of these log files mean that my computer is not working and needs to be fixed (Untruth Number 3 - it depends on the error!) and the fact that the time continues to increase on the entries in these files means that things are still going wrong. (Untruth Number 4 - it's just a timestamp!!)

Now completely stunned by a company with the affrontery to lie and attempt to persuade me to screw up my own PC, I decided to ask what he was offering to do to help fix my computer.  He kindly offered to guide me (via his website) to installing a remote control application so that he could take over my machine remotely. I followed him to his website, but decided that enough was enough.

By this time, Patrick and I were at loggerheads - I had apparently been 'uncooperative' while all he was trying to do was 'help' me. I decided to try and get the information for my TPS complaint. He now became downright rude - he was 'not allowed' to give out his company registration number due to 'data protection laws' (Untruth Number 5 - UK companies have to provide their Company Registration Number on all communication). I asked to speak to his supervisor, and he said that he wasn't allowed to pass calls through. Eventually I gave it up as a bad job -- I wasn't even going to get the satisfaction of reporting them to the TPS.

PLEASE don't fall for these scammers

So - hereby hangs the point of this article. A quick google of FixOnClick turns up a number of other people who have had similar experiences - and some unfortunate people that have been talked into parting with money for Scotch Mist and other freely installed programs, maybe even malicious ones. 

In addition their terms and conditions seem to be highly suspect too - this article refers to a possibly related company and website, who freely admit in their Ts & Cs that they can give your information to ANYBODY.

Please, please, PLEASE do not listen to these scare-mongers: keep your antivirus and anti-malware software up to date, and speak to someone you trust if you have a problem.

If just one person finds this article in search and is warned off these scammers - then my work here is done.

About Prolateral

Prolateral Consulting is in business to put your organisation back in control of your own Information Technology, specialising in information and messaging security, computer forensic services, and disaster recovery planing.

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Prolateral Consulting Ltd
Luton, Bedfordshire, UK
Tel : +44 (0) 8450 763760
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