Remember, you can't have futility without IT

This pilot fish runs a small-town computer repair shop, and he believes he's come up with a way to deal with customers who have been suckered in by "tech support" phone scams.

"Whenever a victim of one of these scams contacts us, we always offer a completely free checkup of their computer, and try to undo any damage the scammers may have caused," says fish.

"For example, the scammers may have locked the person out of his computer for 'non-payment,' or left behind a remote administration tool to let the scammers sneak back in later."

So when a customer who's recently been a victim of one of these scams comes in, fish checks out her laptop and finds that, fortunately for her, there's been no actual harm to the machine.

Unfortunately, that's only because she actually paid them for their "services" with her debit card, so the money is gone. Fish and his techs also find that the scammers have left behind remote access software, which is easy enough for them to remove.

Fast forward a month: The same customer returns with a new story. Not surprisingly, she had no luck getting her money back from her bank. But she decided to try calling the scammers back on the phone number they provided.

Oh, we'll be delighted to refund your money, she's told. But the "tech" explains he's having trouble connecting to her laptop to process the refund. Would she kindly re-download the software to allow them to access her laptop, so they could reverse the charges?

"Yes, she downloaded the software and allowed them to take control of her computer again," sighs fish. "Then, pleased with herself for having successfully gotten them to refund her money, she left them to it.

"It was only the next day, when she saw someone again manipulating her computer, that she began to have doubts. And now, here it sits, waiting for me to look at.

"Is it time to go home yet?"

It's always time for Sharky. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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