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Watch out for fake customer support scams

Marty's advice to others

Looking back at this incident, I will use the search engine to look for any difference in contact phone numbers, doing multiple searches.

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Marty

Age 64, USA, retired

The story

I was looking for car tires on Amazon, in May of 2019 on an old Dell Windows 7, upgraded to 10. I was having difficulty closing the deal, because of outdated price information on the Amazon site, concerning the mounting of the tires.

After repeated attempts to close the deal, I decided to call Amazon customer service. It's almost impossible to find a number on the actual Amazon site. So, I used “DuckDuckGo” search engine to find an Amazon customer service phone number. I called the number listed that had the Amazon logo on it, and a guy with a non-American accent answered. I didn't think anything was wrong at this point. Many companies outsource to India or Pakistan. He sounded authentic and cared about my purchase and tried to help. After a few minutes of conversation, he asked me to let him into my computer to find out why I can't buy the tires. Thinking he was trying to help, I did so. At this point you're all out there saying: “What a dummy for doing that”. In similar situations, I have done that several times with my cable company, without any issues.

So he got into my computer, and I see all these files flying through the screen. Then he stopped my IP address and said: “you see, there are 4 people on your IP address right now”. I had no idea what he was talking about. Then he went on and stopped on my router & said: “it looks like you may have a virus on your computer”.

I know, the red flag should have gone, but it didn't occur to me that he was a hacker. He said he could help me, but it would cost me $200 to fix the so-called virus. I told him my computer was old and wasn't worth the $200 to fix it. At that point, we're back at the desktop screen and boxes are being drawn and my files start disappearing. NOW I know I'm hacked and don't know what to do about that.

He took 95% of my files, pictures, documents, 8 years of memories of my 4 grandchildren. I shut down the computer with the Off button. I was able to save a few files. I tried using “System Restore” several times, but it didn't work. I was very hurt and angry at myself for trusting this stranger, that seemed to want to help me with buying my tires. I know not to click any links in an email, Facebook or Messenger, but for a hacker to be able to get to you through a search engine is a new one to me.