Almost Scammed (Real Scam I Narrowly Avoided)

Two quick comments before I start – first, this is not fiction.  Second, nothing was taken from me, so I’m fine.

Yesterday I received a scam call.  They did a good job and I can see how an average person can be fooled.  Truthfully, when you hear about these things you ask how people can be so ignorant to fall for it, but these people are experts and now I know…

I typically do not answer calls unless I know the caller, but I was having difficulty with my work VPN, a difficulty which I was 90% convinced was on my end, not work’s end, so people had to call me instead of using work’s IM feature.  So, yeah, I answered a call without knowing who was calling.

A female automated voice said something like, “This is an important call from your Internet provider, Comcast.  We have detected an issue with your Internet connection.  Please dial one to be connected with a technician.”

OK, I was having Internet issues, so must be legit, right?  I dialed “1”.

A voice came on.  “This is Comcast.  We have detected suspicious activity on your Internet connection.  Please verify your first and last name.”

“Trent McDonald.”

“OK, Mr. McDonald, your name and phone number match our records.  We have discovered suspicious activity at the connection at,” he gave an old address – my Internet was moved to the new location two years ago.  “We need to take action immediately. This activity has gotten past our firewall and we either need to clear the issue on your end or cut you off from the Internet.”

 “I’m sorry, but if you are seeing activity at that address it is not me.” (First inaccuracy I noted.)

“I understand, sir.  That is the issue that I was calling about.  You have moved your account to a new location but someone has gained the records of the old location and has….”

A lot of what he was saying was very hard to understand.  I asked him to repeat three or four times.  Hmm, maybe five times.

Stupid me, by the time I understood that he was saying someone had made charges to my account and we needed to verify, I had half forgotten what the call was originally about.

“Thank you,” I said when I understood.  “Please send an email to my account on record.  I will clear this up today.”

“I am sorry sir, if we don’t resolve this now I will have to terminate your Internet as soon as the call is complete.  I am sorry, this is Comcast policy for these types of issues.”

I should have hung up then, because it is NOT Comcast policy.

“What do I need to do?”

“We have some forms you need to verify.  I will remote into your computer and you can verify them and we are set.”

“I wasn’t born yesterday, you do not need to remote into my computer.  I did not initiate this call! How do I know this is Comcast?  I don’t.  You can put a gun to my head and I will not let you into my computer!”  (Yes, I did say that ;) ). I do not know why I did not hang up immediately!

“I understand, sir, but we use a method to remote in that only Comcast can use, since we know your equipment.  Anybody else out there cannot remote in like this.  It is easy to verify.”

It is true, Comcast does know the router IP and MAC address of the router and can get in.  I have called them and had a tech remote in.  A window pops up and I can accept or deny.

But I was still suspicious.

“Great, I’m sure you can, but send me an email.  This was an unsolicited call.  I am not going to give you the farm on your word.”

He said something unintelligible again.

This went back and forth a few times.  At one time he said, “By company policy I am only supposed to spend two minutes on a call with a customer and I have already exceeded that. We have thousands of calls to make as this botnet your computer is part of has infected many customers. You are taking valuable time that is making the situation worse. It is imperative that it be cleared immediately or the DHS will shut down Comcast.”

More me saying this is BS – why I didn’t just hang up is beyond me!  I have read that if they feel they are not making progress they try to make the “customer” feel guilty.  And he changed what it was about for at least the third time!

“Sir, one last chance and then I disconnect your service.  Go to your computer and I will initiate a chat.  Only Comcast can do that.  You acknowledge the chat and I will clean the offending malware from your computer.  This is something only Comcast can do.”

He said that about 30 times – only Comcast can remote into my computer.  In ways, if it is what he says, it could be correct.

“OK, I am at my computer, initiate your chat.”

“Fine.  Open up your browser.  In the address bar, type,” he started reading letters, one at a time.

I put in the letters into Google to check what he was really asking me to do.  He wanted me to download not remote desktop software, but remote control software, so he can go in take over my computer 100%!

“Fine. the software is downloaded and installed.” I lied.

“OK, sir, what is the ID number the software you just ran so that I can start the session.”

I laughed, said “F__k you” and hung up.  Yep, only Comcast can do it. Yep, using publicly available remote control software that the customer downloads and gives the “technician” the code to enter is now somehow only usable by someone from Comcast.  Yep. After hanging up I wished I had played along for a while longer and then ripped into him.  Oh well….

I did so much wrong on the call, but they are good.  I think all of those unintelligible times were purposeful to make me forget what had gone on before, like clearing the chalkboard.  It was only afterwards that I realized that the story had changed almost a half a dozen times! 

OK just a quick FYI –

If you didn’t initiate the call, give them no information and no access, no matter how convincing.
If someone says they can’t send an email, “We don’t work that way,” hang up immediate – They do work that way!
If there is an immediate need, tell them that you will call the service number on the public Internet site.  Get a case number.  If no case number, it’s bogus.  If they tell you it doesn’t work that way, it’s bogus.  If they agree, go to the web site, don’t trust a number they give you.  It has to be a publicly accessible number that can be verified.
They will never, ever have you download third party software!! Never!!
A tech can remote in, but they will not ask for any information from you.  They will pop up.  Even so, make sure they do not have “control” and make sure there is no admit rights.  And only do it if you initiated the call to a verifiable number.
Listen for changing stories. 
Ask them to verify things, like the serial number of your modem/router (they have it).
Listen for old or outdated information.
If you hesitate, they will try to make you feel guilty. A real technician apologizes for your time, doesn’t tell you that you are using theirs!
The number they are calling from is spoofed – don’t try calling back because the person at the other end is a victim as well.

Anyway, it was scary how close it was.  And yes, I was suspicious from the first minute.  Yes, from the beginning I caught quite a few mistakes.  Yes, I do security for a living!  And yet they were close.

So they called back about five times in the next few minutes.  Every time was from a different spoofed number!  I didn’t answer, though I do wish I did and yelled at the guy for a few minutes…

Anyway, it is a dangerous world out there.  Be careful.

68 thoughts on “Almost Scammed (Real Scam I Narrowly Avoided)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is very scary and sad that it happens and that they are so good at it. Unfortunately, some people are either so desperate or so self-centered that they would take advantage of people no matter what is happening in the world.

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  3. Charlotte Hoather

    I’m so relieved you sussed this out. I had someone call pretending to be from the tax office, I asked for their number to call them back after I’d checked for the information they asked for but they wanted to hold the line, that’s when I first thought odd. I said I’d connect with them through their website and hung up and called my parents panicking I’d not paid my taxes right.
    I agree with you they are very talented they could probably do just as well in a legitimate sales job, this choice is rather a sad life for them.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Wow, it sounds like you barely got out of that one. You’re right, with that type of talent, they could be in sales or something else that doesn’t involve hurting other people.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. marina kanavaki

    Amazing how they are evolving their scam techniques! Rule number one though [as you also mention] never trust a call claiming to be from the phone company especially if they say your connection is in trouble! Over here you have to wait sometimes even 15 minutes for a technician to answer your call about a problem! I could never imagine them being that gallant and calling instead!!! ;-) 🤣😂 Here, we mostly get calls that say they’re a police officer and your father/sister/mother/aunt/son… you name it, had an accident… a while after they ask for money to cover up a crime!!!!! 😂🤣😂🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      lol, yeah, you are right, if I have a problem to report, I’ll be sitting on the line forever before getting a technician – that should be another tip off! I do get alerts, so here it’s just the next step above an alert, and with the amount of information they knew about me… Now if they called about a family member, nope, if they did the crime, I won’t help lol

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. marina kanavaki

        Once they called my father, at first a female voice with a trembling voice, like crying, said some unclear words and then a man took the phone and claimed he’s a policeman and said that his daughter [me!] was involved in a car accident where ‘I’ accidentally hit someone…. from there on they continued to say that if he paid for the hospital etc, they won’t press charges. Of course dad knew where I was and he just led them on to see how far they’d go. In the end he said to the imposter “what’s your id and from which precinct are you calling, I’m also a policeman” …and he hang up!

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  5. dawnkinster

    Years ago, when the scam was “It’s Microsoft calling, there’s a problem with your computer,” I answered the phone, and this guy went through all that. And I told him he obviously was a scammer, and he screamed at me that I was the scammer and hung up. I laughed…but I do know how easy it would be to get caught up in it. If it can happen to YOU, who works in the field, we are ALL at risk!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      They are getting so good these days. Back when “Microsoft” was calling, I didn’t know of a single person who actually believed Microsoft would ever really call people direct. The local Internet provider? I do get alerts, so they might. The scary thing about this is how much information this person had, like tying my cell number to an address that is not part of my cell contract (it was a vacation house). Anyway, yeah, if they almost got me and I’m vigilant, they could most likely get someone else.

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  6. Writing Sparkle

    There are a lot of those scams and some really can be convincing and well timed! I had a friend a long time ago who use to have fun with these calls; one time I was hanging out and the phone rang and he somehow managed to take control of the conversation and was asking funny questions about what the caller was wearing and stuff like that and this caller was intent on dragging him and they kept going back and for for a bit. If I remember correctly it was my friend that hung-up first in the end but my goodness what a laugh. Anyway, good work on staying safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I don’t think these people ever hang up first – as long as you are on the line, you are potential victim, even if you are leading the conversation. After I hung up I half regretted not playing with the scammer a little….

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. dawnkinster

        My brother says that at a lot of the boiler rooms where these people work they are trained not to hang up first. So now when they call him he just lays the phone down and goes about his business and they are stuck on the other end. He says he figures he saves a couple of other people from getting calls during that 20 minutes. I don’t know if it works, but it makes my brother smile.

        Liked by 2 people

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  7. bettylouise31

    Hi Trent, I took the time to read my reader’s blog today. As we are in a group that is often target. So far we haven’t lost anything. My Facebook account was hacked and they were able to figure out my passwords as they had all my family date. Another time I was hacked when someone from their way into Microsoft. The caller informed me they were just outside would come and fixed my problem. I hung up. The scariest happened when a caregiver took me to a hospital that I wasn’t using. We stopped at the bank and I got our weekly money. The place wanted to send me to one of the hospitals, fortunately, the ambulance called recognized me, and when they realize I had stopped at the bank, my purse and walker were removed from the caregiver. It happened so fast I didn’t realize it.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I’m glad you haven’t lost anything, but it sounds like you had some close calls and scary moments. Having people know you and help is always great – it’s what community is about.

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. Suzanne@PictureRetirement

    Hi Trent, this happened to a neighbor of mine and he fell for it. The scammer was able to access his computer and things got really ugly for him when he refused to pay what they demanded. They actually called 911 and reported a shooting at his house. The SWAT team responded with guns drawn, a helicopter hovering above the house; it was quite the spectacle. My advice – don’t answer calls from #’s you don’t recognize, ever. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. Sorry this happened to you, but glad you got away unscathed.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Wow, that is scary. I typically don’t answer the phone unless I know who it is, but those times… and since these people had a lot of info about me that should not be publicly available, it is pretty scary. For a while I was getting a lot of texts that were links, so I deleted them without opening the text.

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Shannon

    I’m so glad you didn’t fall for the scam! It seems the world has gone crazy – we just had someone print up and cash a fake check against our account. We caught it at 5am the day it cleared, proved it was fraud and got our money back (as well as the joy of closing the account, opening a new one, etc). I wish people would just find an honest way to make a living and stop trying to prey on those who work hard for their money – although it sounds like you made that scammer work pretty hard! 😁

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Printing up fake checks – wow, I haven’t seen that one before. There is so much that makes cyber crime lucrative, and the people who commit it are almost never caught. My big regret is that I didn’t make the guy who called me work even harder ;)

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      The scary thing about this guy is he had information about me that should not have been public – obviously someone stole something…. Most of the other calls I’ve accidentally hit have been either, like you companies I don’t use, or so transparent that you have no idea how anyone could fall for it.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Chel Owens

        That *is* scary.

        .. when I had a very short stint as a phone surveyor, the people I called would ask how I got their number. 🤷‍♀️ The auto-dialing system just connected me. Someone told me, later, that your phone company sells your number.

        Liked by 2 people

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          The odd thing is that the address they used is a vacation house, so the phone number isn’t tied to it. It could have been the Internet company selling data or another company that had both my phone number and address, like electric and they just guessed I used that Internet company. Or one had a data breach and never told anyone. It is scary…

          Liked by 1 person

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  10. workinacresnothours

    We mainly get tele marketer calls once my son answered & then hung up, the same tele guy rang back, my Mum answered politely said no thanks & hung up, he rang the third time I answered he screamed my Mums name so loud nearly burst my eardrum. I screamed back this call was now being traced by the authorities & he would be out of a job within the week, he hung up & never rang back again. I have even had calls telling me I am found guilty of tax fraud & if I don’t give them my tax number I will go to prison, stupid dimwits. So glad you twigged to their evil ways. Great to share.

    Liked by 2 people

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  11. Resa

    I was Taken in once, about 2 years ago. I am very suspicious. It wasn’t a call. It was a so called Mac cut in chat on “Safari”, which I’ve never used again. …. skipping a bunch of stuff….. The guy said annoyedly… there’s nothing in here but a ton of passwords.
    I immediately shut down, changed my computer password, and all important passwords and user names.

    Nothing has happened since, that I know about. I only use PayPal, and there are no records of credit card ##’s on any site. The cc I use for PayPal is not attached to any bank account.
    I have a remote paper catalogue with all user names and passwords. No 2 are the same, and I change them regularly.
    Yes, even the savviest, most suspicious of us can be fooled!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is scary how easily they can manipulate the most prepared person. Coincidentally enough I was having Internet issues, the phone # he called has only been associated with the address he gave through that Internet account, etc. They had a huge mouton of data. How much more is floating around out there?
      You are good about being careful. I’m better than most, I think, but I should be a little more careful as I do have a few things pretty exposed out there.

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  12. Cendrine Marrouat

    The number of scam calls has increased evrywhere. I receive two or three similar phone calls a day, which is why I have stopped answering the phone. If you need to get a hold of me, you can always email or text me.

    Good for you for not giving in!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is getting pretty dangerous to answer the phone. And texts – For a week I received a couple of texts a day that were just links to websites. I did not even look at the texts, so no danger accidentally going, but it is getting so that it is impossible to hide. I’m almost ready to go 100% off grid…

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          I am on the Do Not Call list, but that only keeps out honest people ;) I have actually reported several legitimate companies that called me despite being on the list, so I get zero real telemarketers. But these people posing as companies that might have legitimate business with me, yeah, that is hard… And you are right, the biggest problem with the modern world is we have no privacy.

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  13. Marilyn Armstrong

    Years ago I DID get hit by one of these calls because it was Microsoft and I had been dealing with them about an OS issue. Someone from their team hacked me. I also got hacked later when FB sold my personal information and again through my router a few years ago. No matter what we do, the hackers are smart, have really good equipment, and seem to find their way around all our safeguards. I’m still looking for a better router, but all they are selling are the same routers with the same software, which they periodically update — but by the time they update the software, the hackers are already in there. It’s really BAD out there. I’ve never actually lost anything but time and paperwork. I had to reinstall my operating system (it was free, but getting rid of the “pay or die” software that was embedded in it took hours. In the end, though, the computer was clean and I didn’t pay anybody anything. I also back up my documents and pictures, so if I lose anything, it won’t be very much and I no long work at home.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is amazing that someone like you would be hit. There were a few reasons I was close – the phone number they sued is not associated with the address they mentioned -except- through Comcast, and it shouldn’t have been public knowledge. They had obviously somehow stolen Comcast info. I don’t back up enough, however, I do store almost nothing on my computers hard drive, I have everything go to a USB drive, I just always forget to back up that drive, so if I lose that… But I do some backup, just might lose current stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. RuthScribbles

    I have a friend who that happened to. She let them in. They used a different company name. It cost her money to get the computer clean. I don’t remember the details, but yeah. They can do a lot of damage.
    We’ve gotten calls from “Microsoft”. Ha

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Yes, people get caught and it can be tough. I think that they knew some info about me made it harder to just hang up. That and I was having issues with y Internet connection…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  15. dprastka

    Thank you for sharing as it’s scary out there and they are really good at scamming. I had to take extra training at work on security computer questions because I wasn’t answering all the questions correctly. I did better with the further training. What you explained to look out for is so important. Thanks again!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It’s funny because I just completed training a few days ago, and in the heat of the battle it all goes out the window. Well, not all – I was suspicious, but I let go far farther than I should have.
      I almost titled this post “Public Service Announcement” but thought some people may take it the wrong way ;) I hope it does help someone :)

      Liked by 1 person

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  16. Melanie B Cee

    I’m too paranoid for calls like that to work, particularly if they start asking for access to my computer. NOBODY but me needs that in my opinion. I once refused to give information over the phone to my bank (it was legitimate) saying I’d come in personally and talk to a teller or someone about the issue. They had a note from the department that had called me that said I’d refused to give information to them and to expect me. Better safe than sorry I say! I suppose your post today is one good reason for not answering the phone at all! ;) I’ll tell the folks who get peeved because I don’t… Thanks, Trent!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Since sometimes bad guys really are out to get you, being paranoid is not always a bad thing! Usually I give nothing, so was surprised at how good these people were at manipulation. Yep, use my post as an excuse for not answering your phone, just don’t send your peeved friends looking for me ;)

      Liked by 1 person

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  17. Paula Light

    Wow, that’s crazy stuff! Thanks for sharing your experience, Trent. It’s helpful to someone like me who isn’t as computer savvy. I also try not to take unknown calls, but sometimes I mess up.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Even though I was suspicious from the start, I was surprised at how easily they could string me along. And so that is the reason for this post – a lot of people don’t have the experience, so I want to be sure everyone is on guard! Yep, we all make mistakes even when it is against our “policy” and judgement…

      Liked by 1 person

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