Internet scams are a dime a dozen from pop ups for fake anti-virus software packages to cleverly designed phishing websites that look exactly like your banks login page. Internet criminals will try just about anything if they think they can get away with it. Today I think I ran into what I think is a totally new scam that definitely involves your land line telephone, and I am pretty sure it involves the Internet, but I’m not sure.
The telltale sign that you have been had is a monthly charge on your telephone bill for $19.99 for something called “PC Protect”. Now a business of any measurable size is going to a have a phone bill such that an additional charge of $19.99 is going to be barely noticeable and I suspect that this is exactly what whoever is doing this scam is counting on. Thankfully the company I work for has an eagle eyed accountant and when she spotted the extra charge she quickly brought it to my attention and asked what it was. I had no idea, but with a name like “PC Protect” my spidey sense started tingling immediately.
A quick google search turned up a snazzy one page website (which I can no longer seem to find) full of web 2.0 goodness that looked like it was just there to sign people up to some sort of anti-something service. At the bottom of the page in the tiny tiny fine print there was a statement about how people could dispute charges by calling a number. Well, obviously we called. The first time they claimed to be from quizrocket DOT com (no, I won’t actually link to the site) the second time they claimed to be usprizedraw DOT com. We complained about the charges and they basically said tough, that our employee John Smith authorized the charges. So we called Verizon who easily agreed to remove the charges.
All well and good but the question remains how did these people get the company phone number and an employee name to ping it to? Obviously I had a talk with John. John is one of those rare people who ‘gets it’ mostly from an IT perspective. He told me that he never visited either of those sites or any other site even remotely close to it, doesn’t use facebook, doesn’t fill out online quizzes and when he buys stuff online for the company he uses a fake phone number (Like I said, he ‘gets it’).
If it was anyone else I would probably just say he filled out a form somewhere and got phished, which is still possible. Or there may be undetected malware deep inside his machine that I haven’t found yet. (I will take a closer look soon). Looking closer at the company info I quickly started going nowhere, fake company names, with fake addresses etc…
I will be looking closer at this stuff over the next few days. If you have heard of PC Protect or if anything else in this sounds familiar let me know. In the meantime keep a close eye on your phone bills.