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Anatomy of a Scam: Tech Support and Your "Refund"

Jul 14, 2022
consumer rights and protection. Buyer protects bags of goods purchased online

Episode 2 – The Tech Support Scam - I want to help refund you for tech support you paid for and cancelled

In this series I provide a short summary of how specific scams work.

No details or extra filler. Just the facts and a quick read. Today we will cover...

Tech Support Scams - I want to help refund you for tech support you paid for and cancelled

Step 1: Scammer spoofs a phone number

  • Scammers call with a number that shows up on the victims caller ID as Best Buy. 
  • They say, "Hello, I am calling from the Geek Squad about your cancelled account. It looks like we need to refund you $500 which we accidentally charged you after you cancelled your subscription. Do you have a moment so I can help to process this refund and get you your money back?"

Step 2: Scammer sends victim to fraudulent website

  • The scammer sends the victim to a website where they can put in some information to receive their refund. 
  • This site is fake and doesn't work properly. Once the victim tries a few times, the scammer offers to assist via remote access to the victims computer. 
  • Once the scammer has access, they convince the victim to log into their bank account so they can see that the refund has been processed. The scammer then says, "I have initiated the refund. While we are waiting for the refund to go through, I would like to provide a courtesy computer and virus scan to make sure your computer is safe, bear with me while I run this scan."  
  • The scammer then runs a command window and runs directory commands. The scammer uses this command window to block what they are doing behind the scenes. Behind this window, since the victim is logged in their bank account, the scammer transfers money from one of the victims accounts to another. In my mother's case, they transferred money between her savings and checking accounts.
  • Depending on how much money the victim has in their accounts, the scammers could transfer $50,000 or more!
  • Once the transfer is complete, the scammer says, "Oh no! I have made a major mistake and accidentally refunded you $50,000 instead of $500, I am going to lose my job! Can you please help me fix this?" 
  • The scammer then shows the victim the transfer and provides them instructions on how to urgently send the money back. This often involves the scammer guiding the victim over the phone, some times over several calls, to go to their bank and wire the money back to an account the scammer provides the information for.

Step 3: Scammer causes victim to lose their life savings

  • Once the wire transfer is complete, there is rarely any chance of recovering the money. Often times, the scammer will call again to help fix the mistake again, and manage to steal more money. There are reports of victims losing $90,000 or more to this scam.

The best way to avoid a scam like this is to detect it and avoid interacting with it.

At Fellow Fox we teach street smarts so that you detecting and avoiding interacting with a scammer becomes instinct.

Visit FellowFox.com for more information.

Stay safe and stay vigilant,

Partha Ray (Founder and CEO, Fellow Fox)