Phone call with a Heavily-Accented Phisher

or How I failed to get the whole story

I am lying on the bed with a stomach bug when the phone is ringing. It says 544 Unknown Name. The following is an abbreviated recollection of the phone call.

Woman: Hello. This is a computer support call. Are you the owner of a Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer?

Me: Thanks for calling.

Woman: Are you the owner of a Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer.

Me: Yes, I own the computer I am using.

Woman: Can you look at your keyboard. In the left bottom corner do you have a key that says CTRL.

Me: I turned off the computer. Do you want me to turn it back on.

Woman: Yes, turn the computer back on. Let me know when it is ready.

Me: OK. I pressed the power button. It says it’s booting.

Deliberate pause for dramatic accent. I wait about 30 seconds. During the whole phone call, I managed to turn the computer off at least 5 times.

Me: It says user name now. What shall I do?

Woman: What is your user name and password.
Me: Lollipop.

Woman: Is that your user name?

Me: No. That was my password.

Woman: What is your username?

Me: xyzpvn

Woman: OK. Look at your keyboard. Does the key at the left corner say CTRL.

Me: OK. I turned the computer back off. Shall I turn it back on.

Woman: Yes.

I’ll make her wait another minute before the computer is back on.

Woman: OK. Look at the left corner of your keyboard. Does the key say CTRL?

Me: Yes

Woman: Hang on a second I will transfer you to a supervisor.

Man (with a very heavy accent): Our records show that you have been hacked in the last 24 hours. (Nationality of the accent has been removed since it does not really add to the story)

Me: Really? That is horrible. How do you know that I was hacked?

Man: Yes, my friend. You have definitely been hacked in the last 24 hours.

Me: I don’t understand. I use Comcast and they give me 100% security.

Man: You do not understand. Comcast is your Internet service provider. Do you think they are an Anti-Virus engine? Do you think that they do anything with your computer? Do you want all your data to be stolen?

Me: Well. Comcast says they give me 100% security. I don’t understand why my computer is hacked then.

Man: You will see for yourself when you use your computer that it is hacked. Comcast does nothing for you. They are f*king blood suckers. (Wow. I was surprised by those strong feelings)

Me: OK. I turned it off. Should I turn it back on?

Man: Yes

Another dramatic pause in which he keeps telling me how Comcast does not do anything for me. I am actually a mostly happy Comcast customer.

Me: It says username now.

Man: Type in your user name and password.

Me: Ok. That is strange. Usually I get a lot of little pretty pictures. Now it is a blue screen with white letters (Hint: It was supposed to be a BSOD screen, but he completely ignores that.)

Man: Look at the left bottom corner of your keyboard. Do you have a key there that says CTRL.

Me: Yes

Man: What does it say on the key right next to it.


Man: That is not possible. That is something that you type to execute a command.

Me: It does say CMD right next to CTRL. (The story was suppose to be that I am using an old Mac keyboard for my Windows PC)

Man: What does it say next to that key.

Me: It says space.

Man: You are very funny, my friend, you are just joking with me. I am going to hang up now and you can call Comcast about your security problem and see what they do for you.

Me: Hang on a second. (At this point, the telephone told me that I had been talking with those people for about 9 minutes and 54 seconds. After the call timer says ten minutes, I re-engage).

Me: Thank you for waiting. How can I help you?

Man: You cannot help me at all. I will hang up now.

Me: Well. Is there anything I can help you with?

At this point, the other person hangs up. I blame my sickness on setting the wrong goals. When I heard the phishers, my goal was to keep them on the phone for as long as possible. My goal should really have been to figure out what they wanted me to do on the computer. Perhaps next time. I speculate that they probably wanted me to download a piece of malware.

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