I get calls at least once a month from those scammers who tell you your computer has a virus. Somehow they know this, but they don’t know what type of operating system you have or what browser you were using. I haven’t let them get to the point where they ask me for money, but I hear they show you something in your files that looks concerning, but is actually normal. Then they ask you to pay to remove the supposed infection from your computer. Last week when they called, I was quite busy and grumpy, so I yelled at them in the nicest way possible to burn in Hell. “There’s no reason to yell, ma’am.” So I yelled louder. It makes me angry to think of the elderly people who are falling for this nonsense, so when they called again today, I just happened to be home with a sick husband and sick child. I had all the time in the world and a severe case of boredom.
I was greeted by a woman this time and I asked her to hold on a moment while I got my camera. I’ve been wanting to record one of these conversations. It didn’t last very long before my SD card ran out of room, so when I faked having difficulties getting my computer to work at all, I was slowly uploading files and then erasing everything. This is how the conversation went more or less. It was long and I couldn’t understand half of what they said, so there’s lots of paraphrasing. Video maybe coming later since my CenturyLink upload speed is slower than a slug in molasses.
Scammer: Hello, ma’am. I’m calling from blah blah blah about your computer.
Me: My computer?
Scammer: Yes, ma’am. You have an infection from browsing the Internet.
Me: OH NO!!! Is this from the exercise blogs I visit?
Scammer: Yes, ma’am.
Me: Can you hang on for a moment? (I go to get my camera.)
Scammer: Yes, ma’am.
Me: Sorry about that. There was a lot of background noise. What’s this about a virus?
Scammer: Ma’am, I need you to turn on your computer.
Me: I’m having trouble turning it on. I mean it sounds like it’s on, but the monitor is black.
Scammer: Is your computer on?
Me: I don’t know.
Scammer: Try this, try that. Blah blah blah blah blah.
Me: It’s not working. I think the virus ruined my computer! Too bad you didn’t call sooner.
She checks her list of suggestions for people who can’t make their computer work and asks for her supervisor. Wow, scammers have supervisors? Awesome! I’m still in the process at this point of uploading stuff from my card to my computer, which actually is on.
Scammer #2: Hello, ma’am. Is your computer on?
He gives me a bunch of suggestions while I fake not being able to turn it off for a long period of time and then it’s taking a really, really, long time to start up.
Me: Do you know a good place to buy a new computer? I think the virus hosed mine.
Him: Excuse me?
Me: DO YOU KNOW A GOOD PLACE TO BUY A NEW COMPUTER? MINE’S BROKEN.
Him: Uh, Best Buy, Wal-Mart …….
Me: Yeah, those sound like good places. Do you think I have the Cotton Candy Virus?
Him: Yes, the Cotton Candy Virus, ma’am. (I’m glad he’s familiar with viruses that came from my imagination.)
Me: I hear that’s a bad one. Like the worst. Can you hang on? My son is throwing-up. Are you OK?
Him: Me? Yes, I’m fine.
Me: No, my son. My son is throwing-up! Eric, are you OK?!
Eric: Nooooooo ……..
Me: Do you need some water?
Eric: Nooooooooo ……..
Once my camera is ready to use again, he’s telling me to push various buttons. This is the part where they have you go into some files and show you something that looks alarming, but really is nothing and convince you to pay them to remove the virus. He asks me what operating system I’m using and everything.
Me: I did have Vista, but I HATED Vista. I upgraded to Windows 7. I also hate Windows 8.
Him: Yes, Windows 8 is terrible. Windows 7 is the best system. OK, ma’am. Push blah blah blah buttons. What do you see written?
Me: Uhhhhhh ……. I don’t know. I just see a white screen with some blue stuff. (I’m looking at Facebook at this point and then my screen freezes up for real.)
Him: You should see open something something whatever.
Me: OK, hang on. Let me make sure my favorite exercise blog is working! I hate exercising.
I do a Bing search for exercise blogs. Anytime fitness.com. That sounds good. Eric is watching and trying not to die laughing.
Me: OK, what do you see? Do you see carrot sticks? Are those shitake mushrooms? Have you heard of the shitake mushroom virus?
Me: SHITAKE MUSHROOMS. There’s this really bad virus – like ransomware where they lock your files and instead of seeing pictures of your children, you see pictures of carrot sticks, shitake mushrooms, fennel, etc.
Him: (don’t remember what he said – it’s a long conversation)
Me: I hate healthy food. Did you know I ate creampuffs for breakfast? I pretty much just eat cream puffs, chocolate, and maybe some walnuts. That’s about as healthy as I get.
Him: You like to eat a lot?
Me: No, I like to eat a little, but when I do, it’s cream puffs. Do you like curry?
Him: No, I don’t like curry.
Me: Why not? Did you know that if you eat curry and you have temporary teeth, it can stain them?
I’m beginning to think this guy is paid by the hour because he still hasn’t hung up on me. My baby starts to wake up and I tell him my baby’s crying. I ask if he can call back later.
Him: Yes, ma’am. We’ll call back later.
What are some other viruses going around?