December 17, 2018
Retails’ Nightmare Before Christmas
With the stresses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping…
The man who developed a bot that frustrates and annoys robocallers is planning to take on the infamous Windows support scam callers head-on.
Roger Anderson last year debuted his Jolly Roger bot, a system that intercepts robocalls and puts the caller into a never-ending loop of pre-recorded phrases designed to waste their time. Anderson built the system as a way to protect his own landlines from annoying telemarketers and it worked so well that he later expanded it into a service for both consumers and businesses. Users can send telemarketing calls to the Jolly Roger bot and listen in while it chats inanely with the caller.
Now, Anderson is targeting the huge business that is the Windows fake support scam. This one takes a variety of forms, often with a pre-recorded message informing the victim that technicians have detected that his computer has a virus and that he will be connected to a Windows support specialist to help fix it. The callers have no affiliation with Microsoft and no way of detecting any malware on a target’s machine. It’s just a scare tactic to intimidate victims into paying a fee to remove the nonexistent malware, and sometimes the scammers get victims to install other unwanted apps on their PCs, as well.
“I’m calling it a ‘Broadside’ campaign against Windows Support and the fake IRS.”
Anderson plans to turn the tables on these scammers and unleash his bots on their call centers.
“I’m getting ready for a major initiative to shut down Windows Support. It’s like wack-a-mole, but I’m getting close to going nuclear on them. As fast as you can report fake ‘you have a virus call this number now’ messages to me, I will be able to hit them with thousands of calls from bots,” Anderson said in a post Tuesday.
“It’s like when the pirate ship turns ‘broadside’ on an enemy in order to attack with all cannons simultaneously. I’m calling it a ‘Broadside’ campaign against Windows Support and the fake IRS.”
The Windows support scam is an old one, much like the fake IRS phone scams that have been victimizing consumers for several years. They typically involve large call centers and multiple layers of workers making the calls, transferring victims, and setting up new schemes. Anderson has posted several example recordings of the Windows scammers hitting his Jolly Roger bot and becoming increasingly agitated.
Anderson said he’s still working out the details of how the operation will work and is hesitant to reveal too much about it. He said he did a test run recently and called a specific scammer’s number several hundred times via 20 separate lines and the scammers turned off the target number quickly.
“I do not want to expose too much about what I’m doing because obviously it can be used for mischief or malice. This is likely why Microsoft or Apple don’t do anything about this. It will take a pirate,” Anderson said via email.