Part of working on my top-secret site project I have mentioned a time or two before involves compiling a database of sites. It was while checking the viability of some sites I had links to yesterday afternoon, when up popped a notice that Mediacom Cable had detected some suspicious activity, with further instructions to call a toll-free phone number to receive help.
Since I am now somewhat seasoned to the “fun” that can be had while surfing the net, I did not panic, but I did become a little concerned when I found that I could not simply close the pop-up and leave the site. My level of concern rose when I found that I could not even close my browser.
The next step would be to restart my computer, but before doing this, I read some more of the information provided on the pop-up. It said to not restart the computer or risk doing great harm.
So, I called the toll-free phone number, and on the other end of the line was a man with a distinct Indian (dot—not feather) accent. He identified himself as being a Windows 35 technician, who was there to help me with my problem. I told him what the problem was, and he asked me to give him remote access to my computer, which I did.
He saw the pop-up message, and then started checking all sorts of things that I could see him doing on my screen. Since my eyesight is still not all that good, I missed a lot, but he paused for me to see that my computer had been infected with the [Koobface] worm, which made my computer wide open for all sorts of no-goods to use in a network and steal my stuff.
Amazingly, I am still not in a panic. Considering all of the “stuff” that has been hitting my proverbial fan lately, an infected computer would be just some more, I suppose.
The technician went on to show me a system errors log that had over 1,000 entries, and he said that there was a solution. It involved taking my CPU to a repair center in St. Louis, and for a fee of $500, the worm would be removed and whatever was causing the system errors would be fixed. I told the technician that we could not take our computer anywhere (let alone over 200 miles away) because of our very poor health, and then he told me that all could be fixed remotely for $259, and if I wanted a three-year warranty, it would be $459.
Okay, I was starting to get a little down by then, and I acknowledged that I recognized the fact that it was his job to sell me the service. Nonetheless, I asked him if he could at least tell me if I could do a complete system wipe and Windows 10 reinstall. He told me that this would not fix anything because Koobface was due to internet hacking and there was nothing wrong on my computer to remove. He went to say that as soon as I fired up the computer again after the system reinstall, all of my problems would still be there.
Even though I was not about to okay anything until Arlynda told me I could, I let him transfer me to another company, who could remotely fix my problems. Much to my confusion, the man answering the phone sounded exactly like the guy I had been talking to before. Furthermore, the background noise on their end was exactly the same. I secured a phone number to call him back, and hung up the phone.
Well, I have been kidding about practicing having "senior moments," and after this experience, I need to take them more seriously. For it was not until later thinking about the conversation I had with the first technician that I realized he had already let the cat out of the bag (so to speak). For if there was no infection on my computer, what were they going to fix?
Studying-up on the Koobface worm revealed that any good antivirus program protects against it. I also found where there is a Koobface scam involving pop-up messages directing the unsuspecting to Indian call-centers trying to sell unneeded repairs. I also found some more interesting information on the [Windows 35] tech centers.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh at my gullibility, but I really can now say that I have experienced it all on the net. That is, at least until the next source of “fun” comes along, of course.
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