Phone Scam Resembles CryptoLocker Ransomware

Dennis Faas's picture

The new 'CryptoLocker' ransomware scam has been causing havoc online for the past few weeks. But you should also be aware of a similar scam being carried out over the phone instead of through emails.

Here's how the scam works: first, targets get an unexpected call from an unknown caller located within their area code.

If the call is answered, the caller tells the target that they're from a reputable tech firm, such as Microsoft or Dell or even a security company like McAfee or Sophos.

Usually the caller claims to be "working with" (rather than for) the named firm, often in the tech support department. (Source:

Scammers Use Minor Error Messages to Frighten Targets

Next, the caller informs the target that their computer has a virus of some kind and that this problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible. In some cases, the caller may place a great deal of pressure on the target in an effort to get them to behave.

Reports indicate that those people who put up a fuss -- say, by asking for more information -- usually hear a "click" as the call terminates.

But for those people who don't hang up, the caller will ask them to open the Windows Event Viewer. The caller will then try to help the target find any error message and then try to convince the target that this represents a serious security issue.

Scammers Demand $300 Fee For Fake Cleanup

The next step involves the caller convincing the target to give them remote access to the "infected" PC. The caller may then point to other minor error messages as a sign that the computer is laced with some kind of malware.

Finally, the caller will offer the target a system cleaning in exchange for a $300 fee.

Security firm Sophos says most of the scam calls have originated in India. Many of the companies behind the scams have reportedly ignored Do Not Call lists, meaning they continue to call a home even if they're dismissed. (Source:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating the problem, but in the meantime it's important everyone take a great deal of caution when receiving calls from a "computer expert". (Source:

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