This scam is still doing the rounds and they were calling businesses in Leigh on Sea this morning so be aware.


It was on Radio 5 Live this morning - social engineering.

This is where people call you up and try to persuade you to give out personal information or do something to fix a problem they have identified in order to get money.

In this case, the caller from India had got the wrong person - Rory Cellan Jones, a BBC reporter.

The man on the end of the phone told Rory that he had been notified that there was a problem on Rory's windows computer and he was calling him to help fix it.

Thing is, Rory doesn't work with Windows, he has a Mac but he decided to find out a bit more - and of course to record the call.

The caller gave him a string of instructions to type into his computer, with which Rory played along. At the end he was told that he should see a long string of numbers on the screen - later consultation with computer experts revealed that typing in that series of commands would indeed produce a code.

The scammer explained that this number confirmed that there was indeed a virus on Rory's computer and that he could pay them £150 to get rid of it. At which point Rory came clean and explained that he had a Mac and demanded that the caller give his phone number so a complaint could be made to his superiors.

After some posturing, the man on the phone told Rory that he was a time waster and put the phone down.

The thing about this is that if you follow instructions given to you by people you don't know, you could end up giving them access to your computer system or allow them to see what keystrokes you are typing into your keyboard. The latter will allow them to work out usernames and passwords for any financial institutions that you might use to move money around online.

Never ever do anything that someone tells you via a cold call - always check it out first, in case it is Social Engineering. And, please, never ever give out any bank details or credit card numbers!

The same applies to communiations relating to your internet dealings - always check with your advisor before paying anything unusual. The proliferation of Domain Renewal Scam companies from both the US and UK, plus the Hong Kong / Chinese domain name fraud means that businesses are also at risk from these unscrupulous individuals.

Social Engineering is a very frightening thing because there are so many vulnerable internet users who don't know the tricks that these people can get up to. We are far too trusting of people we don't know.

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