From: Virus Guy on

Beware of cold call scammers pushing rogue antivirus

By Dan Goodin in San Francisco � Get more from this author

Posted in Malware, 5th July 2010 06:02 GMT

Malware-pushing scammers appear to be stepping up their use of
telephone-based pitches, resulting in an increase in reports from the UK
of high-pressure cold calls designed to trick people into installing
rogue antivirus products and other nasties.

Over the past few weeks, at least two people close to The Reg �
including reporter Bill Ray, who has seen his share of scams � have
received the dire warnings that their PCs are riddled with malware that
can be purged with just a few clicks directed by the person on the other
end. On Friday, antivirus provider Eset UK, citing an increase in the
calls, warned computer users to remain vigilant.

The pitches vary, but they generally involve a professional-sounding
person who may be calling from a phone center who warns that malware has
been detected and is now attacking other computers. Skeptical receivers
may be asked to open the Windows event viewer for proof of infection
before ultimately being asked to give the caller remote access through or other services. Eventually, the scammers will install
rogue antivirus software or other malware that is extremely difficult to

The scammers are undaunted when would-be victims say they don't need
help from a perfect stranger calling over the phone from heaven knows

�Turn your computer on and in a few clicks we can sort it out for you,�
one caller told a family member of Paul Young, an IT employee at Sophos,
another UK-based antivirus provider. The scammer knew her name and
number even though her phone wasn't listed. Shortly after hanging up,
she received another call from someone claiming to be working for a
different company, who used slightly different tactics.

Of course, when Young inspected the PC later, he found no signs of any

The scam has been going on for more than a year, but other than the
domain names,, and,
researchers say they know little about the people behind the calls.

Once upon a time, malware pushers thrived off of vulnerabilities built
into NT-based versions of Microsoft Windows and the applications that
ran on top of it. As software companies have gotten better at locking
down their products, crooks resorted to popups designed to trick marks
into installing the malicious wares. Now, with the cost of calls at an
all-time low, it's only natural the scams would move to cold calls.

Eset says the scammers charge up to �79 to install the malware, which
often masquerades as titles from legitimate antivirus providers.