Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

(Not) Windows Support Desk


[Ring ring. Ring ring]
ME: G’day. This is Barry
CALLER: Hello this is Windows support. I’m calling regarding a problem with your computer.
ME: Oh? what kind of problem?
CALLER: Do you realise that your computer is generating a lot of Internet traffic that is related to viruses and malware?
ME: No. Is that bad?
CALLER: Very bad. You can get into a lot of trouble if you let it continue.
ME: Bugger! So what should I do?
CALLER: That is why I am calling sir. So we can repair your computer and make it safe. Just follow what I tell you to do. Do you understand?
ME: yes
CALLER: OK. Please turn your computer on.
ME: It’s already on
CALLER: Ok. Hold down the Windows key, press the “R” key and release the Windows key.
ME: What’s the Windows key?
CALLER: Do you see the key at the front left of the keyboard? It should have the letters CTRL in it.
ME: Yes
CALLER: Well the to its right should be the Windows key.
ME: Oh you mean the one with a kind of wriggly 4-paned window one it?
CALLER: That’s the one. Hold it down and then press the “R” key then release both keys. Got That?
ME: Yes. [pause] Done it.
CALLER: Ok. Now type in E V E N [unrecognisable] [unrecognisable] W R
ME: Sorry my hearing’s not the best. Can you spell it out again please?
CALLER: E for echo, V for victory, E for echo, N for November, T for tango, V for victory, W for whisky, R for Romeo.
ME: [pause] Ok. Now what?
CALLER: Click Ok.
ME: I don’t see an Ok button. Should I just press Enter
CALLER: What? Ah, yes, just press Enter. Then tell me what you see.
ME: Nothing
CALLER: Huh? What do you mean nothing? Can you describe exactly what you see on your screen.
ME: well, I mean Nothing happened. The box that I typed E V E N T V W R into is still sitting in the middle of the screen.
CALLER: Do you have any other programs running?
ME: Yes, I have my email program, a web browser, a word processor,and a [Caller interupts]
CALLER: [cross tone] You must close all programs completely. Do you understand? I want just the desktop like when you first start your computer. Am I clear?
ME: No need to be so short. If you wanted a clean screen you should have said so at the beginning. Now, when you say “Like when you first start your computer”, do you mean before I log in or afterwards?
CALLER: [sounding flustered] Before. No, I mean Afterwards.
ME: [sounding doubtful] Ok. Hang on a mo.
[long pause]
CALLER: Hello? Hello, are you there sir?
ME: Yes. I was just closing down everything. I’m ready now.
CALLER: [speaking slowly and deliberately] Ok. Hold down the Windows key, and while holding it down, press the “R” key. Then release the “R” key and then the Windows key.
ME: [short pause] Ok, Done.
CALLER: Has a box appeared?
ME: Yes
CALLER: Type E V E N T V W R into the box and then read out what you have entered.
[slow typing can be heard]
ME: Done. I’ve typed in E for echo, V for victory, E for echo, N for November, T for tango, V for victory, W for whisky, R for Romeo
CALLER: Very good! Now click the Ok button.
ME: Like I said before, there’s no Ok button.
CALLER: [pause] What buttons to you see?
ME: There are 3 buttons: “Preferences”, “Close”, and one that is greyed out with the label “Launch”.
CALLER: Does the box have a title at the top?
ME: Yes.
ME: Well what?
CALLER: [exasperated] What it the title?
ME: Oh sorry. “Application Finder”
CALLER: And you got there when you pressed the Windows key and the R Key – are you Sure?
ME: If you mean the R key between the E key and the T key and below the 4 key and the 5 key and above the D key and the F key, then, yes, I am sure. If there’s another R key somewhere else, you’ll need to direct me to it.

The above conversation is the beginning of a 31 minute 17 second session I had with a guy that was trying to “help” me fix a “serious problem” on my computer. After several more unsuccessful attempts to run Event Viewer, he tried another approach:

CALLER: I want you to click on the Start Button.
ME: Where do I find the Start Button?
CALLER: At the bottom left hand corner of the screen
ME: There’s no button there
CALLER: [sounds like he’s talking with clenched teeth] There is a bar that runs along the bottom of the screen. On the left side there is a button that says “Start” or it has the Windows logo on it. I want you to click on it.
ME: Look mate, I’m telling you there’s no bar along the bottom of the screen and there’s no button with Start or the logo on it. I’d tell you if there was. Are you sure you’re qualified to be doing this?
CALLER: You little sh*t! Do you know how much trouble you can get into by messing around with Windows Security Office? You don’t want to f*ck with us.

Usually these types of calls end abruptly when I question the qualification of the caller, but this was a new approach. He clearly thought I was a young person trying to be smart. He then went on to explain how I could be banned from the Internet for life for knowingly distributing malware; that my telephone would be monitored, and as distributing viruses and ransomware was regarded as terrorism by the authorities, I’d be put on the terror watch list and the No Fly list, and so would my parents. He then threatened to set the wheels in motion unless I cooperated fully, and asked me again to click the Start button.

I gently explained that I was in fact 69 years old, and as I have autism I often take instructions too literally, and rather than assuming my screen looked exactly like his, he should ask questions that would lead him to understand how my computer is different. I then gave the example of Instead of being rude when I said I didn’t have a Start button, he could have enquired what I do to start up a program.

This seemed to calm him down and we spent another 20 minutes or so as he fruitlessly tried to lead me through installing a remote desktop, a key logger and backdoor, and finally an attempt to install TeamViewer. If only he had bothered to ascertain what operating system was installed on my computer, he would have had a much easier time. My home has been Microsoft Windows free for almost 15 years. Our 2 desktops, a laptop and our media and backup server all run variants of Linux.

Eventually it dawned on him that I might be leading him on and he directly asked if I was wasting his time. So I told the first porky of the evening. I mentioned that New Zealand was a member of the Five Eyes Spy network and I had been using delaying tactics so that his precise location could be identified. It was just a matter of deciding whether to use the local law enforcement agency to arrest him, or the Internet Rendition Unit to whisk him to a jurisdiction where Internet crime is better dealt with. The decision would be made within 24 hours. At that point he hung up. I have no idea if he believed any of the lie, but I hope he sweats for a few hours at least.

I don’t like lying and on the rare occasions I do, I always feel physically uncomfortable afterwards. But on this occasion I actually feel good.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

25 thoughts on “(Not) Windows Support Desk

  1. You made up that whole story, right? Or based it on something that did happen and changed it around a bit? It made me laugh, and I can truly relate – but before I reblog to allow my other readers to enjoy as well, it I need to know if it’s fact or fiction. (Oh, and did the Caller happen to have a Russian accent?)

    • It happened exactly as I described it. I started writing the piece minutes after I hung up the phone. Sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but it was around 2am when I published it, and it’s now 8am.

    • His accent was definitely of the clipped kind found on the Indian subcontinent

    • I had one of these last week, what I call the “Peter Sellers accent” and after about three or four minutes into the convo I just hung up on him. This is a real threat, and they will try to get you to open your computer for them, so they can grub around in there…

      • I’m always leery of anyone who wants to repair my computer remotely – even when it’s done by the official technician I’ve called for help, like the cable company guy (who did fix the problem, but I still found the process unnerving).

  2. No problem, Barry. I tend to forget that you’re not on the same continent I am. I will definitely reblog the post, probably within the next 5 minutes.

  3. Reblogged this on Cordelia's Mom, Still and commented:

    I think we all can use a humorous post tonight, and this one is simply priceless. Barry tells me it’s a true story. I wish I had been on the line to overhear that conversation!

  4. As for lying, I would think of it as a practical joke or comedic fantasy. He should not have tried to defraud you and damage your computer.

    • I have no problem with practical jokes or comedic fantasy, but telling a story with the deliberate intention of deceiving someone is not something I’m usually able to do. Certainly I can’t do it to someone’s face.

      A day later, I feel a little uneasy about the deception, and I think that next time it happens (as it definitely will, this being the third fake support call this year), I’ll word it more as a possibility rather than an actual happening.

      The reason why I drag these types of calls out is that the longer they have to deal with me, the less time they will have to do harm to others.

  5. I have an interruption service so I never actually talk to these guys anymore. Lying? How can you be lying to a guy who is calling to defraud you? All you were doing is stopping a thief from his theft!

    • It seems to be a common characteristic of many on the autism spectrum. We find it more difficult to not be truthful than most people. In my case the physical discomfort I experience can be very unpleasant. I have no idea why.

  6. Great story. I can kind of relate, as I ran Linux for about 2 and-a-half years. I just recently went back to Windows. We get those calls here in the U.S., too. So now I know what those rascals are up to.

  7. Barry, this has made my morning.

  8. Un-freaking-believable! This is just too good NOT to be true! How I laughed and I mean laughed! The “service” in today’s world is sh*t! I just had a conversation with a Canon representative who told me an extender would fit the lens I told him I had, and when I checked compatibility, my lens was NOT on the list. Of course he tried to strong arm me into buying right away. Just shaking head …..

  9. This is hilarious, and Hubby would definitely relate. He always used to ask if there was a teenager in the house if he couldn’t get anywhere with the person needing assistance. First question to them was always ‘ has Dad/Mum/granpa spilt anything on the keyboard?’

  10. Epic win, Barry! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I’ve gotten these types of calls, too, except the version I’ve seen here in Texas is a caller who is very obviously from India, and they’re trying to convince me that something is wrong with my computer so that they can “sell” me a “fix” over the phone, which involves obtaining my credit card info. I like to keep them tied up, too ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜ˆ. IMO, these are scamming scum who deserve to be lied to ๐Ÿ˜Š (I’m not quite sure if the person who called you is after the same goal as mine, but the call started out sounding exactly the same, and I would have done what you did, in your position). Bravo! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’—

    • As one of the programs he tried to get me to install was a keylogger, I suspect it was to gain direct access to an online bank account. Why attempt to sell a fix when they can simply take the money? Quite likely another motive was identity theft. And finally in all likelihood, if he had been successful, my computer would have become part of a botnet.

      • Ah! Yep, I see ๐Ÿ˜Š. Dang! I’ve heard of keyloggers but I’m not very knowledgeable. Identity theft would be a powerful motive indeed ๐Ÿ˜ณ. I’m relieved that you’re as aware and savvy as you are ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

        • I was an engineer for a multinational I.T. company for 35 years – the perfect job for a nerdy Aspie like me (although I didn’t discover I was an Aspie until after I quit).

          • Rock on! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. Yes, I remember something about that, I think maybe getting on to be a couple years ago now? But I’m not sure. But I think so? I was relatively new to the blogging community (not to blogging itself, but the more social aspect of it lol ๐Ÿ˜Š); I’m hoping I’ve got the right person ๐Ÿ’ž. That’s really cool, though! I’m really glad your job was one that was a good fit for you ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. It does sound pretty tempting ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’œ

  11. Fascinating incident. Scammers are rampant these days and they like to target elderly people.

  12. This was great!! Thanks for the enjoyable read ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Very good. Wind the bastards up. Well done you!!

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