The Next Scam: Tech Support Calls You

Mark Berry May 19, 2011

A user contacted me yesterday telling me, “I just got a weird call from someone with an Indian accent saying his company had been getting error messages and they wanted me to go on the computer and have a technician walk me thru steps.” She did exactly the right thing:  “I refused and hung up.” But what is behind this scam? What are they trying to achieve?

This July 2010 article from the The Guardian (UK) goes into detail about the history and purpose of the scam. The article discusses callers claiming to be from Microsoft, controlling your PC, and demanding immediate payment. But that could easily morph:

  • Callers might claim to be from Microsoft or another tech company (real or fake), or may not say a company name at all.
  • Callers may ask you to run “eventvwr” and then point out the warnings and errors in your Event Viewer (which are usually harmless).
  • Callers may request that you connect to a web site from your computer. They may give you a code to enter. This can instantly give them access to the entire machine. Or they may just advise you to download and install a program, which is actually a virus or spyware.
  • Callers may or may not ask for payment.

Microsoft has a whole page on scams that use its company name. Regarding this scam, they say, “If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls.”

Note that remote control is a legitimate tech support method, but you should only grant that to someone you know (like MCB Systems) or a technician whom you have called. If you see someone typing or moving the mouse and you didn’t authorize it, unplug the network cable or just turn off your computer until it can be scanned for malware.



23 Comments

  1. abc   |  August 01, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    dear all plz dont reply to any calls in the names of tech support as their neither such things as tech support and its a damn scam, there are so various companies in the market fake ones killing peoples hard earned money i searched d net and found many such websites 24/7online techsupport scam, optimisal.net scam these guys propably calling frm asia dont plz dont divulge anything…. stop scam of thes companies…

  2. R. Jensen   |  August 19, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I got a call from windows, my friend is barely computer literate.<>is their site. I agreed to do as told. HA ,the website “appeared to be a microsoft pinpoint” partner. I haven’t done any research on them or what the f’ they do. But they would not e-mail me any info, wanted to have me go home and turn on my computer, go to their website follow their instructions, and my computer will stop downloading junk files cause of errors and spyware, malware and all kinds of stuff that my computer was doing. OH, THEY SAID MY SYSTEM WAS DOING THIS AT THE MOMENT. I didn’t tell them that I was on a hardline at my friends house. So… I had a little fun asking them what system I had and OS, etc…No Clue- No response besides can you go home and do what we are asking. Ha. who r these ppl? R they real or just stupid? Pls reply someone….will feel stupid if It’s 4 real…. not..Oh I frustrated the heck out of the rep……………………..
    Please don’t fall for scams,
    Thank You and good night,

    R. Jensen

  3. TLF   |  May 29, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I am sorry, but these guys almost got me. I thought it was a bit left of center, but they came close.
    This time they guided me into the msconfig services trying to get me to bite on a virus that was shutting down my service applications. (Pointing out the apps that were running and those that were not – he claimed that Microsoft had become aware of this, and that I should be notified. I also click boxes allowing Microsoft to track the use of the many products that I buy and how I use them ).

    Through the course of this conversation I became more anxious, and finally shut them down.

    However this needs to be done on a governmental level. I am very proud of the individuals that spotted it more quickly. Bravo for you! But what about the rest of us? These guys are only out there practicing there “stick” until they can capture some 60 to 75 percent of the market.

    Is the answer an arrogant reply – too bad for you? Really?

    Baloney!

    You want free internet? Why? So this crap can go on with out impunity? If this went through the us postal department this would be on the order of fraud, theft. Hopefully on a federal level.

    Thanks for all the arrogance.

    It is as worthless as the criminals that perpetuate the crimes, and the tech savvy Cretans that think the internet, and email should be free because the thought is they and there loved ones will be protected from the deviant businesses that are now ever present on the web, and invade our homes

    Terry

  4. Monique   |  October 19, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Hi all! Well, I have been duped! Now what???? I received a call last year from Inext Support and allowed them onto my computer….thinking that they were saving my computer from virus’ etc. Then I paid them a hundred and something dollars for a lifetime membership of their support. Then this year, recently, I received another call with them stating that they were getting notices about my computer….ignorant me….I again let them onto my computer and ended up paying $300 for a 3 layer security on my computer. Now they just called me again, today, and told me that they were getting pop ups on my computer…..I again allowed them to go on my computer to “fix” the problem….they told me that they would call me back but they haven’t yet……questioning now their validity I decided to do a bit more research on them and I am wondering what I should do? Can they get onto my computer still….have they got my personal info? I’m a bit scared now and not sure where or what to do or even if there is anything I can do to change what I have done? Please help!!!

  5. Mark Berry   |  October 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Monique, they absolutely could have left behind software that gives them full access to your computer, whether you are there or not. If you are lucky, they just wanted your $300. I would turn off your computer and find a trustworthy local computer professional to deal with it. She or he might advise copying your data (photos, email, etc.) to an external drive, then doing a factory reset/re-install on the computer. Ask your friends who they trust for computer service. Staples or Best Buy are options but not always the most highly trained.

  6. Edward Smith   |  January 18, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Hi Moique,
    This is Edward smith from Eagle Mountain, CA.
    I had a Experience with that company,at the very first place I also thought that they are scam
    but after the support that they provide me that changes my mind.I don’t know what happened with you but my experience is very good with them.

  7. Mark Berry   |  January 19, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I don’t know if “Edward Smith” is a real person or not, but I encourage anyone considering a support provider to do a Google search, e.g. on “Inext Support”. If many of the top results include the word “scam,” well, maybe it’s a scam.

    There is an interesting video about a call with Inext at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhPZgH-dwg4. It verifies reports that I have heard from colleagues: the approach of these companies, if you grant them remote access to your computer, is to show you errors in your event log and, in this case, services that were not running, then to claim that all of that is bad and they will fix it if you pay them. The truth is, event logs on ANY computer will contain warnings and errors, and in many cases services are stopped for a reason. There is probably NOTHING WRONG but they will take your money anyway.

    Of course, event logs and services are important tools in diagnosing computer issues but please, find a trustworthy computer consultant if you think your computer it not behaving right.

    Re. Inext, see also this Microsoft thread: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/protect/forum/protect_other-protect_scanning/fis-inext-support-a-legitimate-company-can-i-trust/8799315e-9d40-4437-87ab-fd6bac7bda1f.

  8. Haley   |  May 07, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for being here when I needed you! I got a call from “Paul” at INEXT. Same story. I played dumb and said the computer wasn’t mine and took HIS info. He gave me his phone number. I haven’t called, but he gave (760) 392-3952

  9. Mark Taylor   |  November 02, 2015 at 3:52 am

    The entire information is misleading and provocative against the Organization. I have personally received ample and more support from the same Company. They have provided me support, every time i required for my computer.

  10. David   |  November 02, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Well the above mentioned information is derogatory & absolutely missleading. I have personally received major help from this company in regards to all my computer software issues. They provide immediate support on contacting. The folks out there are superbly helpful, so please don’t disgrace them this them this way.

  11. Mark Berry   |  November 02, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Interesting that after six months with no activity, suddenly two comments come in around 4am defending the Organization (a little Orwellian, no?). It seems pretty obvious that Inext or a similar company is actually paying people to find critical articles and write fake endorsements.

  12. Michael M.   |  November 24, 2015 at 10:46 am

    http://www.inextsquad.com/

    Got a call wanting to take control of my PC, never got to the point of paying them or giving access. My caller was Andy (employee #66943). He has me look up my computer ID, using the assoc command and had me look at al the Windows warnings since I had installed Windows 10. Started doing some digging and cannot find anything positive, so I ended the call.

  13. David   |  January 25, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Note the comment from Mark Taylor above. I just got a call from a Mark Taylor from the company he’s defending. He said he was from windows support team and wanted me to do all these things on my computer for him. Turns out he’s from http://www.comtech247.com/ Do not trust these guys. They are not a legitimate support company. The company is a front to phish information from your computer. Hang up if they call you.

  14. Kris   |  January 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

    I just received a call from “Ellen” today (1/28/16). She had a strong Indian accent and probably wasnt’ really named “Ellen”. She told me she was getting notices from my Windows PC that there were lots of errors and needed fixed and that she would wait for me to turn my computer on and walk me through the fix. Well, I was in just the right mood for “Ellen”. I acted very concerned about the threat and asked her which one of my 4 computers she needed me to go to. She said it didn’t matter. She had me click on the windows key + R and open the Run box. She wanted me to type “dentvwr” into the box. From there something about the “event viewer local?”. I never typed those letters in, but had a blast with her as I took up 30 minutes of her time and gave myself and my co-worker a good laugh. I finally told her to f*** off because there was nothing wrong with my PC and she wasn’t going to touch it… she never called me back. Don’t fall for these scams people, but you can always have a good time by wasting theirs!

  15. Mark Berry   |  January 28, 2016 at 9:50 am

    The command is “eventvwr”—it’s a legitimate way to start the Event Viewer. Most people never see that so they are unaware that it will always contain warnings and errors, most of which can be ignored. I’m updating the main article with a note about that.

    I wonder how these reps work–is it just a low-paying hourly job? Or do they get a commissions? Do they actually think they are helping people by selling their “services”?

  16. lynn   |  February 15, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Got a call from Logan about errors being forwarded to these clowns….talked with him for awhile and then he handed me to his supervisor….Kevin who hung up on me when I started asking questions about scams etc……These guys both had heavy accents and were hard to understand and of course wanted money…..I immediately shut down my computer and called a phone number I had asked for at the beginning of the conversation with Logan…..(Logan and Kevin said they were in California)……The next guy was Henry in New York who when I started asking questions hung up and then the number was not available for calls?……SCAMMMMMMMM!

  17. Deborah   |  February 28, 2016 at 10:38 am

    So when my husband tried installing a wireless extender, our internet quit working. Called Cox and our router company and ended up talking to AAKA. They had me pay $350 to clean it up. Thought little weird, but went for it when we saw the BBB on the website. Well 3 weeks later Inextsquad called and said getting warning signs from my computer. Said they are affiliated with AAKA. Wanting to charge $200. They said they will refund me the $350. Just go to the bank and tell them. So I transferred all money out of my account and hoping that I get refund. Don’t know if I need a new computer or go back to factory settings. What do you guys think?

  18. Mark Berry   |  February 28, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Deboarah, I don’t know about AAKA, but the bottom line is I think you need to find a local computer professional you can trust. Failing that, hire tech support from a known retailer like Staples or Best Buy.

  19. Jack   |  April 11, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I did not get any calls about problems with my computer but instead can not use my internet with out pop ups from Java Script Alert which can not be canceled or X out as they come right back with 2 or 3 more & sometime take over the whole screen. All have different site addresses. Some want me to call MicroSoft pinpoint network and speak to Jake On Line others want me to talk to Molly Jefferson all at different phone numbers. I put the web addresses into search, one was a web design site, one was a forbidden site were you needed permission to use and other site was unknown. I have no doubt that this is not legit but how do I get back my internet?

  20. Mark Berry   |  April 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Jack, you could try downloading and running a trusted virus checker like the free version of Malwarebytes (https://www.malwarebytes.org/). If that doesn’t fix it, http://www.bleepingcomputer.com will work with you if you start a thread, or you can take it to a local computer shop for cleaning.

  21. Lucinda Carter   |  May 19, 2016 at 6:29 am

    These people are definitely a scam. Paid $500 for lifetime support and 2 months later said I still owed them $498. I lost the 500 but will never fall for this scam again

  22. Mark Berry   |  November 04, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I just received another comment containing a positive “review” of inextsquad. The comment reads, “inextsquad is a LLC authorised company in USA. I have checked and then deal with them. Anyone are free to say scam but it’s upto the user and their experience with them. My experience was good.”

    Notes:

    – The review was posted via an anonymizing VPN service. This means I can’t use the IP address to check which state or country the reviewer is in.
    – The URL in the review links to an advertising site for lawyers.
    – Even if inextsquad is an LLC, that gives them no authority; it just specifies how they are incorporated. And by the way, that’s not how we spell “authorized” in the USA.

    The suspicious comments are to me further indication that iNext is not a support company I would recommend.

  23. Aakash Abhinav   |  November 10, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    They remotely lock your computer and charge money for unlocking it. So basically you are paying for nothing. They create their so called “error and warning reports” for which they provide you their “service”
    They seem like a bunch of illiterate lads blabbering plain ****. They are just asked to learn and speak those irritating phrases. Hungry for money, that’s all

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