Odd phonecall - criminal at work?
Thread poster: George Trail

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:19
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 21, 2011

I just got phonecall from someone with a funny accent asking me if I "did Western Union transfers" - whatever that was about. He seemed to know my name, although when I said to him, "I don't know who you are," he wouldn't tell me his name (or confirm why he called me) for some reason. (I suppose it's common for fraudsters and scammers to use false identities anyway.) But he asked me again and again about Western Union until I felt compelled to tell him that I didn't work there, and I agreed to tell him the address of the nearest Western Union branch to where he was (in Bracknell). He didn't tell me who he was but I didn't tell him any information I would usually keep private from strangers, nor did I agree to any financial transactions without knowing the particulars. Could this guy be a criminal with a plan? Should I worry about how I might lose money from any of my accounts any time soon, or about my name being used for identity theft purposes, or about being innocently caught up in a money-laundering scam - anything?

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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:19
English to Czech
+ ...
1,000% scam Dec 21, 2011

Hi George,
I believe this is a 1,000% scam. If it was me, I'd have hung up the moment he asked me about Western Union.
That guy was most probably involved in the classic overpayment scam.

If I may advise, don't reply to any e-mails, don't answer any more phone calls from this guy, and cease any communication with him.

[Upraveno: 2011-12-21 19:44 GMT]


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:19
Member
French to English
+ ...
Odd, but maybe a prelude Dec 21, 2011

As Stanislav says, Western Union transfers are favoured by scammers, and I dare say you'll have read about overpayment scams in the relevant threads. I've not read about any cases where those scams have started from phone calls, but for all I know, maybe it does happen.

Other than telling him where his nearest WU branch is, did you give him any other information? And did he ask you about anything else? You say you felt compelled to tell him you don't work for WU - if you're ever in that situation again, don't feel compelled! From a scammer's (or anyone else's) point of view, asking people directly for information isn't the only way of eliciting it, and it's easy to be caught off guard when you're put on the spot during a phone call. If you're unsure about what to say in an awkward situation, always remember you can hang up, or ask the other person to call back later because you're in a supermarket/on a train heading into a tunnel/whatever, and then you can take some time to think about it.

All in all, it sounds like a bizarre conversation, and the type that I would end before it got anywhere! Takes all sorts to make a world...

[Edited at 2011-12-21 22:40 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can't imigine what it was all about Dec 21, 2011

But thanks for putting the rest us of on our guard, George.

Sheila


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:19
German to English
+ ...
Secret shopper scam? Dec 21, 2011

I wonder if this ties in to the "secret shopper" scam where they want you to find out how well WU operates... Check the forums. Maybe this guy fell for it and is doing a survery! ??

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:19
Member (2008)
French to English
Another phone scam Dec 30, 2011

Another phone scam that I've heard that a few colleagues have received recently is the Microsoft virus one. A call is received, in this case displaying an overseas phone number and with a heavy foreign accent, claiming to be from Microsoft and that Microsoft has detected a virus on their computer that was damaging their system. They want you to go to a particular site on your computer while they are on the phone. The person receiving the call in this case recognized that the site, LogMeIn.com, is a legitimate site but can be used to initiate a remote desktop session in which the person on the other end takes control of your computer. Incredibly, when he refused the caller got quite belligerent, saying that Microsoft would hold him responsible for damaging the network!

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:19
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
The "virus on your computer" phone call Dec 30, 2011

John Fossey wrote:
Another phone scam that I've heard that a few colleagues have received recently is the Microsoft virus one. A call is received, in this case displaying an overseas phone number and with a heavy foreign accent, claiming to be from Microsoft and that Microsoft has detected a virus on their computer that was damaging their system.

I receive this type of phone call about twice a year, and they usually say they are from the "computer service centre" (or similar name) rather than Microsoft itself.
The last 2 times this happened to me, my reply was exactly the following: "Get lost!"
I think what they do is to get you to open the (Windows) "Event viewer" (in XP: Start > Programs > Administrative tools > Event viewer) and look at the System list. Most events there are "Information" but a few will be "Error" marked with a white cross in a red disk. They'll tell you this is a symptom of the virus but, of course, it's nothing of the sort.
If I feel I want to have a little fun (and waste their time) the next time this happens, I may let the conversation reach this point and then say something like "You know what the real virus is? It's not these "error" events - it's what you are trying to get me to do with my computer. Why don't you get yourself an honest and ethical job instead of the criminal activity you are trying right now?"

Oliver


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