Fraud Warning

We all say “it won’t happen to me”, but it’s just happened to someone I know. One convincing phone call and they’ve lost £2000 – pretty much all the money they had.

I’ve heard of this one before, but it’s been a while so it’s worth reminding people how easy it is for these scum to defraud you and how confident they are in doing so. Also how hard it is to get your money back, if at all, afterwards. The banks aren’t exactly bending over backwards to refund it – Santander in this case. First contact said the bank wouldn’t cover it, advised them to go to a high street branch, but transferred them to the fraud department. Last I spoke to them they were still on hold after over an hour.

The scam began with a phone call which was identified by their phone as coming from Santander. The person on the end knew their details (name, phone, account) and answered enough questions to identify themselves as being bank staff. If I’ve picked it up right, they knew the answers to his security questions.

Apparently his account was frozen as someone had spent £199 in Liverpool which they thought was odd. He confirmed it wasn’t him and they told him he had to close that account and move everything to a new one for security.

In small amounts.

This should ring alarm bells. A bank can transfer thousands in a go. The only reason for chunking it is to avoid flags going up for a large transfer. Try and shift £2000 in one go and expect something to ping on an app, opr request a code sent to a phone. Shift, say, £200 ten times and it may ping eventually, but not for a while. Long enough for them to steal a fair bit.

So that’s what happened. A disguised phone call from someone with a good story and far too many convincing details (we have no idea how they got hold of them), and an unsympathetic bank.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow when they approach an actual branch, but I fear the money is gone. I’ve advised them to inform the police. They likely can’t help, but it’s useful to them to have a record of this happening.

So be careful. If you get a call from “your bank” with a similar story, get the details and hang up. Ensure the call has disconnected – this is more an issue with landlines. Look up their number (check the back of your bank card, for instance) and call them back. That way you know you’re talking to someone genuine.

Header image by Mohamed Hassn via Pixabay

Michael from “Microsoft Technical Support” and the “computer infection”

Before I begin, I would like to emphasise – if someone (whatever their accent) rings you out of the blue from “Microsoft Tech Services” or similar, telling you that your email address is infected and your computer has caught a bug which is… you know, a load of techno-cobblers, then don’t follow their instructions. Don’t give them any personal information. Feel free to swear down the phone at them and tell them which limbs you’ll break if you ever see them in the street. Because they’re trying to defraud you.

The usual procedure is they get you to download some real spyware, or some software which gives them control over your machine (such as Teamviewer, an otherwise useful program) and then gather all your personal information to pass to them, or something which genuinely does lock up your system so they can bill you for other software to remove it (which it may or may not do – it could be more spyware… and they’ll have your payment details as well). More information over on ActionFraud where you can also report these criminals. Head to YouTube and search for “Indian scammer” for loads of recordings.

My only concern is how they have my home phone number (which I never use) and my email address tied together. There must be a website somewhere with this info, but hey – I can live with that as I know how to deal with these idiots. Which, if you have some spare time, is like this… (apologies I didn’t get a recording – I would have if they’d rung my mobile)

*bring bring* [international number incoming]

M: Hello, this is Michael [with an Indian accent]. I am calling from Microsoft. Your computer has been hacked by an infection and I am going to help you remove it.

Me: Oh. Oh wow. That sounds scary. How did that happen? What can I do? Thank you for calling!

M: Are you at your computer.

Me: Yes, I am. It’s already on.

M: Look at your keyboard. Do you see the CTRL key?

Me: I don’t think I have one of those. I have a CMD. And caps lock. Did you mean caps lock?

M: In the bottom left, you should have a C-T-R-L key.

Me: No, I don’t have one of those. I have shift. Will that do?

M: OK, no problem. Look at your screen. Can you see your icons?

Me: Yes, I can see them. They’re really pretty. I arranged them to look like a spiral.

M: What web browser do you use?

Me: I use Yahoo. To give them some business.

M: OK, so open your Safari, or Google Chrome or Yahoo for me.

Me: Oh. Wait. I can’t see the icon for that. I think it’s vanished. Could this be the virus?

M: It’s not a virus, it’s an infection. And yes it could be. It will be infecting your computer and damaging your system files.

Me: Oh, no. I can’t see my Compuserve icon anywhere to dial the modem. I’m not sure how I will be able to access AOL now.

M: On your screen in the top right, can you see a magnifying glass?

Me: No, there’s nothing there. Apart from the screen. Just background. It’s a picture of my children. Wait! One of them is holding a magnifying glass in the picture! Is that the one you mean? Wait, how can you see that?

M: No, no. A small icon of a magnifying glass in the top right hand corner…

Me: Oh, wait! Silly me. I’m logged in as my son. That’s why some of the icons are missing. He will have been up all night downloading pornography again. Could that be the problem, where the virus came from? He watches a lot of pornography.

M: How old is your son?

Me: Eight

M: Eighteen?

Me: No. Eight.

M: He’s eight and you allow him to watch pornography?

Me: It keeps him quiet while my wife and I try to work around the house. Oh, that might explain where the CTRL key went. I think it got really sticky so we pulled it off. Hang on, I’ll log out and go to my account. It’s really slow so bear with me.

M: Yes, it will be the infection which is making it slow.

Me: I am so glad you called! Thank you! Yes, … here we go… wow, it’s slow… aaaand… no, that’s not it yet. Wait… [I ran this out for 2-3 minutes] OK, and password. Wait, you can’t see my password, can you? I mean you could see my magnifying glass.

M: No, we can’t see your password.

Me: Good, good, because we’re very strict on passwords in this house! Don’t tell them to anyone. OK, P… A… where’s the S? There. S… S… W… O… R… D. Oh. It’s not working. I’ll try again. P…a…s…s…w…o…r…d… Oh. Could this be the virus. Wait! I had caps on! Sorry! P… A… Michael? Michael? Are you still there? Michael? Damn, he gave up easily.


Fake jewellery
Fake jewellery (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

My other half just picked up some stuff from as gifts. Their web site states that they’re genuine, and they’re not. All knock-offs and not at knock-off prices. The stuff we received was a) partially incorrect and b) crap. Damaged, badly made and obviously sub-standard.

There is no indication of where they are located – it turns out when the stuff arrived that it’s China. They also took more off Gillian’s debt card that they were authorised to do so.

Correspondence with them (via a Yahoo email address…) has resulted in them claiming that it’s “not worth” refunding as the postage charges would be so high to return it. They offered £10 (of a £70+ transaction). Then £13. Now £18. It’s like haggling.

Unsure if trading standards will touch it, but the web site takes GBP payments and is a domain so I think I’ll be making a complaint to their registrar. A quick search on popped up a story about “Operation Papworth” a couple of years ago where 1,219 similar Asia-based sites were taken offline.

We’re looking at talking to the bank and using something called Chargeback – further details on the Which? web site.

Please PLEASE share and repost elsewhere. If they won’t refund our relatively small amount after defrauding us, then perhaps some negative advertising will cost them more. – you are thieves, fraudsters, liars and scum. I hope you die a severely unpleasant death, that lingers for many hours until you are begging to be put out of your misery.


I contacted the four jewellery manufacturers for whom the frauds list themselves as authorised resellers. Tiffany & Co have already replied and were very grateful for the heads up, and the additional details I gave them about the domain registration. Apparently the domain is owned by a lady in Belfast, according to the whois data. I reckon this is a crock as well, frankly.

The domain registrar did have a look, but said there was nothing wrong with the site that they could see which is fair enough. On the front it looks genuine, it’s after the purchase has gone through that you find out they’re scammers. I’ve forwarded them the correspondence we exchanged with the thieving ******** afterwards.

Also, our bank have said they’ll issue a Chargeback against the transaction which means we get a full refund from the thieves’ bank account.

So as a result of trying to screw us over, they’ve lost not only a sale minus a small overhead but the entire sale, plus postage, plus the shoddy goods they sent out. In addition, there’s every chance their domain will be taken off them as well.

Do not mess with my other half. I will hunt you down…


From their domain registrar:


Thank you for your response. We have asked the owner of the domain to remove all the infringing content from their website within the next 24hrs, failure in doing so will result in suspension of his domain. We would also request you to file a complaint against this domain with your local cyber crime department.

PDR Abuse Team.


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