What kind of scam is this?

What kind of scam is this and what kind of profit could anyone make of it?

I answered my home phone a couple of weeks ago and got a woman who told me she worked for “The office of Microsoft Windows” in Florida, and she wanted to talk to me about error messages that kept popping up on my home computer.

I wish I’d been able to keep the person on the phone longer for my own entertainment, but I had dinner nearly ready. I’m sure if I’d had more patience I could have figured out how this scam was supposed to work – did they want money to solve the error message? Did they want identifying information they could sell?

Have any of you experienced this sort of call? Does anyone fall for this kind of thing?

I haven’t experienced this exact type of call, but it’s similar to other scams out there. A caller purports to be with some computer company (in your case Windows, in other McAfee or Norton) to report that they’ve detected some kind of malware on your computer. This person is then told they can eliminate the problem by purchasing and installing some kind of malware-elimination software package. The number I’ve heard recently was that it was around $450 they’re extorting from people who don’t know any better.

The quick answer is, “Yes, some people still do fall for this,” but my only cite on that is that the calls are continuing to happen. In many cases these type of scam artists are looking for the elderly, or people who clearly don’t have a lot of squirrels banging around in the tree that is their noggin.

I expect she would have helpfully guided you to a website where you could download software to make a fix, after which you would certainly be in a fix.

There are many videos on youtube (like this one) where people play along with the scammers and you can see what they are up to.

Thank you, Alley Dweller – seems like there’s lots of videos like this. Fascinating!