- Matt Horan turned the tables on the cold caller in the recorded conversation
- Scam helps fraudsters to steal cash and harvest personal details from victims
- Expert – who works with GCHQ – pretended to be a computer novice in long call
- In the end the fraudster realised he was being teased and told him to f**k off
This is the toe-curling moment two fraudsters tried – and failed – to rip off one of Britain’s top internet security experts.
Matt Horan turned the tables on the cold callers, who appear to work for one of several Asian call centres set up to pester millions of Britons every year.
Mr Horan, whose business works with GCHQ, recorded the excruciating conversation as the conmen tried to get control of his computer.
He pretended to be a computer novice and the excited callers then try to get access to his laptop.
But after 35 minutes of wasting their time he told a senior manager a dinosaur appeared on his screen – the cold-caller snapped, telling him: ‘f**k you’ and hanging up.
The scam helps fraudsters steal cash and harvest personal details from victims.
Fighting back: Matt Horan turned the tables on the cold caller whose job is to pester millions of Britons every year.
Act: He then posed as an ignorant computer user and told the conman that he had no internet connection and could only see an image of a dinosaur on his screen.
Pay off: In the end the fraudster realised he was being teased so swore at him and put down the phone
Mr Horan, an IT expert who works with GCHQ, asked a colleague to film as soon as the unnamed man called his landline at C3IA Solutions in Poole.
Satisfying moment expert turned the tables on the cold-callers
Mr Horan, an IT expert who works with GCHQ, asked a colleague to film as soon as the unnamed man called his landline at C3IA Solutions in Poole
Female cold caller [FCC]: Can you see the green coloured box?
Matt Horan [MH]: It’s just doing something, the funny thing’s spinning around.
FCC: Wait, I’m transferring this call to my senior supervisor
MH: Okay, thank you, I’m really worried. (Pause) Hello?
Senior supervisor [SS]: I’m going to guide you, what can you see on the screen
MH: I’ve got a problem with my machine apparently, which I’m a bit worried about
MH: It says www.teamviewer
SS: [tries to finish sentence] .com’
SS: Yes, a dot then com, [spells out] c-o-m’
MH: Okay, I think I’ve got that now. Is it fixed now?
SS: No, it’s not fixed, you’re getting a remote control now
MH: Am I? Let me do that now then.
SS: ‘Now what do you see?
MH: ‘Oh there’s no internet connection’
SS: ‘There’s an internet connection?’
MH: I’ve gota picture of a dinosaur as well
SS: F**k you [phone clicks off]
MH: Hello? Hello’
He then posed as an ignorant computer user and told the conman that he had no internet connection and could only see an image of a dinosaur on his screen.
The first woman who called then handed him over to a supervisor who finally realised he was being teased and said ‘f**k off’ and put down the phone.
Mr Horan has released the film in the hope it will help people avoid falling for cyber-scammers in the future.
Mr Horan’s Poole-based company is one of fewer than 20 certified by the government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
As well as its work with government agencies including GCHQ, it has a commercial section that works with businesses, assisting them with their cyber-security.
Mr Horan said: ‘One of the weakest parts of any business’s cyber-security is the staff. They do nothing malicious, but can easily assist fraudsters.
‘Along with ‘phishing’ emails, this type of phone scam is common and can cause huge amounts of damage.
‘The caller purports to be from Microsoft or a similar outfit and informs the person who answered the call that there is a problem with their computer.
‘They then instruct that person to look at the computer’s ‘systems and events logs’, which is simply a log of every action taken. They tell them that this is evidence of on-going malicious attacks.
‘After that they try and get them to log into TeamViewer or something similar which means they then can gain remote access and control of the target computer.
‘They then have all the information on a computer or network and can infect the system, read emails, steal passwords, or encrypt the stored data – basically do anything they want.
‘Obviously this can cause massive harm to a business and can lead to data loss, theft of funds, stealing of intelligence as well as causing acute embarrassment.
‘We train staff at businesses to be cyber-savvy and always to hang up on calls like this. If staff are in doubt they should contact their IT support.
‘Firms such as Microsoft don’t make calls like the one I took, but they seem authentic.
‘Often the scammers work in pairs so the initial caller can pass over the call to a ‘senior supervisor’ – as they tried with me. This gives an added authenticity.
‘Caution should be the watchword taking calls like this.’
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