Two warnings from the WSB inbox tonight: First, an odd telephone call that turns out to be a scam attempt that’s been going around a while; second, a Craigslist post for a West Seattle rental that yielded a bizarre reply. Read on for details on both:
First, the phone scam, whose target didn’t want her name used:
I just had a phone call that I finally figured out was a new sort of computer scam. I am concerned that another person might fall for it, so I’d like to tell you my experience as a warning to others:
When the phone rang, there was an incomplete caller ID. I answered because I thought this was strange. There was no one on the line: I heard a phone ring three times, and a man’s voice came on asking for my husband. I said the usual, “My husband is not available. I am his wife. May I help you?” I expected to be given a speech and to respond, “Please take us off your list.”
Instead, the person who sounded as if he were in India told me he works for a computer consulting company, Tech Resolve, which has been contracted by Microsoft to respond to persistent error messages from Windows users. I asked him why I should trust him any more than trust someone who would email me to wire money to a friend who had been mugged in Bali. He laughed, congratulated me on my suspicions, and convinced me to open the RUN window, enter a command, and presented for my view a window with a series of red error messages. He did this again with another command. Then he sent me to a web page on which he wanted me to authorize remote control of my desktop. At that point, I told him my husband was calling me and asked if he could call me back. Instead, he asked to be put on hold. When I returned, he had hung up.
Several things made me suspicious: First, the caller ID and unusual way he answered at the beginning of the call. Second, he asked me to sit down in front of a computer. I asked him which one I should sit in front of and he told me any computer was fine. Third, I looked up Tech Resolve’s web page while talking to him, and it was a commercial page that charges for any sort of help. So, when I put him on hold, I went to Microsoft’s web site on another computer. The security page told me that they never contact Windows users in unsolicited calls. Finally, I called Rob at PC Mobile Help. He assured me it’s a scam and even offered to talk to the fellow on the phone. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen because I was hung up on. I did find more information on this scam online where it seems to have been more popular in the UK and is a relatively recent event in the US. (The fact that Rob was sincerely concerned about my security was even more evidence to me of what a nasty scam this is.)
I am certainly happy to have resisted allowing a stranger access to all the private information stored on my computer. Had I done so, it would have been disastrous. I am really concerned about others who might be taken in by the story.
Meantime, the other note of warning comes from Alli, who inquired about a West Seattle house listed for rent on Craigslist. It was listed as 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, $800. Here’s the note she received back (we’ve edited out a few specifics):
Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am the owner of the house you are making inquiry of…Actually I resided in the house with my family before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer from my work now in Warsaw,Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $800 USD (rent already includes utilities). More so Now, i am currently in Lagos, Nigeria for an international Christian follower’s crusade. I will like to let you know that i initially wanted to sell the house but my wife adviced i rent it out to responsible people.
Please i want you to note that i spent a lot on my property that i want to give to you for rent,so i will solicit for your absolute maintenance of this house and want you to treat it as your own, It is not the money that is the main problem but i want you to keep it tidy all the time so that i will be glad to see it neat when i come for a check up.I also want you to let me have trust in you as i always stand on my word.
This is the address of the House ( —- 30th Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98126 ),
It has a dramatic entry foyer with ceramic floor. Extremely spacious rooms throughout with lots of big windows…nice and light! New neutral paint and some newer carpet..Very quiet, low traffic area. Appliances included are washer, dryer, oven,dishwasher, new fridge (7/07)…I believe its absolutely a perfect home for you and your family.Utilities include Water,Trash,Sewer,Gas
SO IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE
RENT APPLICATION FORM BELOW
RENT APPLICATION FORM.
DATE OF BIRTH:_________?
KIDS _____ (YES/NO), HOW MANY ________
PRESENT ADDRESS: _____________________
ZIP CODE: ____________
HOW LONG? ___________IF RENTING
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING__________?
IF THIS HOUSE IS BEING GIVEN TO YOU,
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING? ____________?
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? ______________?
DO YOU AGREE TO PAY THE DEPOSIT BEFORE RECEIVING THE KEYS______________
IF YOU HAVE A PET,
KIND OF PETS: _____________?
DO YOU SMOKE ______________ ?
DO YOU DRINK ______________?
DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT? ____?
Looking forward to hearing from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file incase of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you…Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you,please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands,so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this….
The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to…A Deposit of $500 (which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in…Feel free to call me for more information and arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you….my number is ( +233-***-***-*** or +233-***-***-*** ).The house will be available for rent for a period of 4 years so you have a choice of deciding how long you intend staying there…
So, you say, what if that’s somehow legitimate? (Have you ever read spam e-mail?) We crosschecked the 30th SW address given in the note. It is indeed listed for rent … for $1495 … in two legitimate-appearing ads – one of them also on CL!