Startech: Scammer Scammed

My wife and I took the kids out to visit family out in California for Thanksgiving break this past year. It was a fantastic visit. We all had a great time. I even got a fun story out of the first evening there! I made sure to write down the details in my phone shortly after this occurred, and I've decided to post them here for others to enjoy.

My wife's grandfather received a phone call from a "Startech" company (213-330-0187, according to the phone's caller ID). The caller yammered on about having detected a bunch of viruses on grandpa's computer, and he claimed that he was calling to help us get rid of them. Being the resident tech guy, grandpa handed the phone off to me to deal with the situation.

The Indian guy on the other end again explained that he found out that our computer has several viruses and was going to walk us through how to get rid of them. He asked if my computer was turned on, to which I responded that no, the computer wasn't currently on. He asked if I could go turn it on and sit in front of it. I told him I would. While the computer was "booting," he asked how old the computer is. I told him it was maybe three years old. Eventually, I told him the computer was ready.

At this point, he asked me if I saw a key on my keyboard with the letters C, T, R, and L. Obviously, I did. Then he asked if I could see a key near that with a flag on it. When I said that I could see it, he asked me to find the R key. Once discovered, he instructed me to push the flag key and the R key.

I told him that I pushed the keys, but nothing happened on my computer. He patiently asked me to try again. When I again stated that nothing happened, he asked me to describe which keys I was pushing. I told him I held down the flag key and the R key at the same time, and he claimed that it was not possible for nothing to happen when I push those keys.

I believe that's when he instructed me to hold the flag key down with one finger then hold down the R key with another. Again nothing. He asked me to try a few more times, because maybe my computer was just slow. For each attempt, I claimed that nothing had happened, and he muttered something about this not being possible. Mind you, I wasn't even looking at a computer during any if this.

Eventually, he gave up trying to get that dialog to pop up. He said there was another option. He asked which Web browser I use, if it's called Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Internet Explorer. I said. "Uhm, I think it's called Midori..." He was a bit confused, asking me to repeat the name. I did repeat it, and I even spelled it out for him. Apparently it wasn't important, because he just shrugged it off and continued with his script.

He asked me to type into the address bar the following address: I told him that I typed it in and it just said "Page Not Found." He was a bit skeptical at first, asking me to verify what I had typed into the address bar. He asked me to try again, again claiming that it is not possible for the page to not load.

That's when I asked him if I had to be connected to the Internet to follow this step, because I couldn't be on the phone and on the Internet at the same time. He let out a sort of exasperated sigh, then asked if there was any other number he could use to call me while I was on the Internet. I told him I only have the one number, and he diligently asked if a had any friends or family who could come over so I could use their phone. I said everyone I know is out of town for the holidays.

I believe he then went on a little rant about them calling everyone in my state about their viruses. No doubt in my mind :)

Then, trying to be helpful, I asked if maybe he could email me the instructions do I could walk through them after we hung up. He said he would just say them over the phone for me to write down. I told him I was okay with that, and then he started listing off the steps: "the first thing you'll need to do is hang up, then...." That's when I hung up on him. He called back, but we just laughed with each other instead of answering.


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