A cold call from the world-wide web

If there’s something that strikes the fear of god in me, it’s a Trojan horse, trotting round my computer and grazing on the contents of my hard drive.

It’s probably because I know it would leave my computer, a lifeline in both my expat and professional existence, with an electronic version of the bubonic plague, that would signal the death knell to every single file stored on my laptop.

When I overheard my mother on the phone today, talking about Trojan horses in a raised, slightly alarmed voice, my ears pricked up.

Trojan horses, malevolent worms – the stuff of nightmares!

“Which computer?” I heard her say, irately. “We’ve got at least four here.” (My mum worked in computers from day one, when they were so big they filled an entire floor and had to be fed with tickertape).

But, it turns out, spending decades as a programmer isn’t enough to make you 100 per cent sure that the disembodied female voice on the line, telling you there’s a malicious virus she can fix, is actually a hacker.

My mum put the phone on speaker volume so I could hear.

“I’m calling from the world-wide web,” said the woman.

“The main server. Have you heard of www?” she asked. (Erm, yes!)

I know it sounds obvious now, but at the time, there’s a little bit of you that thinks, goodness, the world-wide web is actually calling us! (It’s a very clever piece of technology, after all.)

The woman, who even appeared to have my mother’s computer IP address, told her to switch the PC on so she could save vital software from being damaged.

Thank goodness my mum didn’t, and at this point I started waving my arms frantically, then practically yelling, “Put the phone down!” – which she did.

It rang again.

The caller tried one last time to persuade us, then didn’t bother us again. But, you can really see how some people would be taken in, and either end up getting hacked, or parting with money to fix the fake ‘problem’.

Be warned – it’s a scam lots of people have fallen for, and the hoaxers, usually with Indian accents, sometimes claim to be from Microsoft, or Windows – slightly more convincing than the world-wide web’s main server, wherever on earth that is! (Does anyone know, out of interest?)

13 thoughts on “A cold call from the world-wide web

  1. If all 3 of the menfolk in my house weren’t sound asleep right now (2:20 on a Saturday afternoon…that’s how we roll around here) I would read them this aloud because they would all get such a good laugh out of it, “Hello, this is the World Wide Web Server calling..” But I will definitely pass this on – I could see how people – even very savvy ones – could be confused by this. Fortunately for me, we don’t have a home phone and the hackers haven’t gotten round to calling Korean mobile numbers yet!

  2. Georgia says:

    No joke, just had this guy call me.. but he couldn’t give me any info about my laptop or my ip address or even what version of windows I was running…. If he was trying to fix my problem it’s very unlikely he wouldn’t have some sort of idea or details. This was too funny and I had a great time calling him out

  3. I just had one of these calls! Thought it sounded dodgy so told them to call back. Glad I looked it up and found your article! They rang back and I told them not interested and put phone down! Thank you.

  4. My Mum is having these people call every week. Last weekend I took the phone from her and insisted they stop calling. They said they were going to keep calling every week because of the viruses in her computer. I asked to speak to the manager where he just said no. He wanted me to switch on the laptop and he was going to talk me through the problem. He even unnerved me, I just hung up but they’ve been calling for weeks now. Any idea how to stop them??

    • I’m so sorry to hear they’re bothering your mum so much – that’s awful. I really hope it stops. Wish I had some ideas for you. Keeping my fingers crossed they’ve already given up. x

    • So sorry to hear that your mum is being pestered like that. Luckily, they did not ring us back when I told them we didn’t want to know. Perhaps next time they ring, just tell them you/your mum hasn’t got a computer any more?

  5. Lynne Bowyer says:

    This is happening to me currently. Three calls. I’ve managed to put him off two times with excuses. “Filipino John” even gave me a phone number to return his call. This number has an Ohio area code and is disconnected. When I mentioned this fact on a subsequent third call, he apologized for my inconvenience and went straight on with his request that i enter a 30 digit code into my computer. His accent is Filipino, says he’s calling from CA.When I told him that I required a legitimate contact number, he ended the call. Who do I call, whom do I trust? My computer has definitely been compromised.

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