Author Archives: Stefan Rick

The Devil in Disguise of Microsoft: Tech Support Scammers Strike Again


For many, the computer has become an important device to manage matters of everyday life. With useful features such as email, social networking sites, online banking and shopping, there is barely any aspect of life that you can’t organize with the help of your computer in one way or the other. As discussed on our tellows blog – both US and UK – in the past, that turns the computer into an appealing target to scammers.

The number of telephone scams aimed at receiving access to computers has been increasing as a growing number of comments such as those of tellows user Sonya, who wrote about the number 7804094786, demonstrate:

This man with a heavy accent called here, saying that he was from “Microsoft”, that my computer had sent them a error message of some sort and that he was now calling to fix the problem. This was literally a day after I had bought a new computer that was still in the process of being set up, but I figured I played along for a little while longer, just to see where they were going with this. He then said to press start and type in CMD into the search and click enter. […] Long story short: It’s a scam – so beware!

How the Scammers Operate
In most instances, the scammer posed as a representative of Microsoft or Windows Microsoft, claiming that the computer of the person called has been infected with malware causing the operating browser or computer to sent a critical error message to the supposed tech support of the corporation. The goal, to gain access to the computer and subsequently other sensitive personal information about its owner or users, is achieved by instructing the target to change current computer settings or to download rogue security software to leave the computer vulnerable.

In some cases, they also attempt to charge a fee for supposedly fixing your computer: user Mr. Swanson reported about the number 8008008200:

Total scam! The caller said he was calling from “Microsoft” and that it had come to their attention that my computer had been infected with a dangerous virus. Of course, they had the solution for my “problem” and, yes, while it might cost nearly $300, it would be a good investment and apparently really the only way to save my computer. I figured I humored them long enough, said they should go to hell and hung up. So if you’re not in the mood for playing with some scammers, don’t pick up!

Reported Scam Numbers
Several users reported other numbers connected to the scam on tellows, including the following numbers:

Detecting the Scam
In some cases, if your computer has been infected by malware and you are a customer of Microsoft, you may receive a call from a legitimate representatives of Microsoft. However, actual employees of the corporation are able to verify you as a customer and will not charge you to fix your computer over the phone.

Moreover, you should keep the following things in mind when dealing with calls that seem suspect:

  • don’t provide any information regarding yourself, your computer or your credit or bank account on the telephone (unless you can be 100% sure that you are talking to a legitimate representative of the company in question and you are a customer)
  • don’t follow any instructions that change computer settings, especially if you don’t know how it will affect your computer
  • don’t provide a third party access your computer on the telephone
  • don’t download software that you have no knowledge of, especially if you are charged for it

An ongoing issue for the company, Microsoft is well aware of the problem and has provided an information page on phone scams related to the corporation.

Reacting to the Scam
If you have already given away information and think you might be a victim of scammers, change the password on your computer as well as for other user accounts they may try to access such as email account, bank or credit card account. Run a trustworthy and reliable scan program on your computer – Microsoft recommends the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

Furthermore, don’t forget to report the scam: if you are aware of a number that is used for this type of scam, you can alert the Federal Trade Commission in the US. In order to warn others, you are encouraged to share the information you have on our tellows community as well.


Senior Citizens Frequently Targeted by Con Artists


Targeting senior citizens, one of the oldest and most frequently committed scams is still going strong. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advises all seniors to use caution when answering phone calls from unknown numbers, especially when the caller claims to be a relative asking for money.

This particular scam method is a rather simple one: playing on grandparent’s heartstrings, the con artists call elderly people, posing as their grandchild and claiming to be in trouble that could be solved with a money donation by their supposed grandparent. Unfortunately, some of our users have already made some experiences with these scam methods. As user Harry commented on the number 4389894013:

Unbelievable scam! My dear mother received a call last week from a young man who claimed to be her grandson. He said he got into “all kinds of trouble”, was arrested on vacation and now needs some money for a lawyer and bail. You can imagine how upset she was when she called us to check in. Fortunately, she hadn’t done anything yet and was just happy to hear that her grandson is well – but the nerve that some people have!

Other recently reported numbers include:

  • 5145685650 from Pierreville, Canada
  • 4387653430 from Quebec in Canada
  • 8888912113 from an unknown location
  • Reasons for Targeting Seniors

    There are several reasons why seniors in particular are targeted by scammers. Generally speaking, most seniors tend to have excellent credit and often saved up extra money for emergencies. Additionally, they grew up in different times with a different mind set, tending to be well-mannered, trusting, giving and caring, and are thus more vulnerable to scams. Oftentimes, seniors fail to report these crimes for reasons of false pride – embarrassed by the thought of what relatives or others might think if they’d admit to being scammed. A lot of con artists also bank on a less detailed memory and forgetfulness that tends to increase with age. In some cases it might take a while before the victim realizes he or she has been duped which makes it even harder to track down the scammers and retrieve the money.

    With the number of elderly people continuously rising, senior citizens make up a large portion of the US population – more and more of which make use of advancing technology, becoming more accessible to con artists (regardless of their actual physical distance). Many scammers operate outside the US which raises even more difficulties to catch and stop them.

    Common Methods and Red Flags

    Over time, some scams have become even more elaborate with some, for instance, researching social media sites to obtain personal details about the grandchildren that they can use to gain people’s trust. Sometimes even a third person is involved, posing as a police officer or lawyer and supposedly validating the grandchild’s claim to need money. However, there are some patterns of behavior that should raise immediate suspicion. These red flags are:

    • the caller doesn’t identify by name or only after you already suggested it
    • the caller insists that his/her parents should not get involved
    • the caller urges you to wire money through Western Union or Moneygram (most commonly used by scammers in the US) or to immediately and secretly send money
    • the call originates from outside the US or overseas
    • the caller won’t and/or can’t answer questions your actual relative would know
    • the caller doesn’t sound like the person he/she is claiming to be but makes excuses for it (e.g. bad cold)

    How to Recognize Scam Calls

    In order to quickly identify scam calls, you should refrain from suggesting a person’s first name: for example, if someone says “It’s your grandson” ask for their actual name and if necessary for further information that only you the person in question would know. The following tips might also be helpful to avoid scams and money trips:

    • check in with your relatives (e.g. the grandchild concerned or his/her parents) to confirm the story with a phone number you know to be trustworthy
    • refuse to send money via wire transfer if you are uncertain who’s on the receiving end
    • make notes as to who requested money, when and to which location
    • if you do wire money, add a security question only the person you think will receive the money would know
    • if you have already wired money without security question and it hasn’t been picked up, call the wire transfer service to cancel

    Moreover, the FBI strongly advises to resist the pressure and refrain from hasty action. If you have been scammed it is important to report the crime immediately to law enforcement officials and to file a fraud report. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will regain your money but it will certainly make it easier for law enforcement agencies and the FBI to track down active con artists and prosecute them.

    You may also talk to your parents or grandparents about the dangers of unknown and/or possible scam callers. Furthermore, if scam numbers have been brought to your attention, don’t hesitate to share the information on tellows so that other people can benefit from your knowledge.


    Top 3 Most Wanted Numbers


    Dear tellows friends,

    following another couple of weeks of nuisance calls, we present to you the worst offenders of the moment:

    1. 2024813310 with 1 comments and 629 search requests. tellows Score: 5
    2. 3018829950 with 2 comments and 723 search requests. tellows Score: 9
    3. 7607058888 with 3 comments and 1592 search requests. tellows Score: 8

    A lot of annoying calls but very few details are reported for the number 2024813310, ranking on 1st place. Despite a rising interest in the number, user Larry appears to be the only one with any information on the matter:

    this number called me several times, when I call back, it says that it is not working….

    Similarly harassing calls are made by our 2nd number, 3018829950. The frequent calls are particularly annoying since the caller doesn’t appear to be interested in an actual conversation, often hanging up after a few rings before the call can be answered. User Angela suspects a telemarketing company as the perpetrator:

    I just started getting calls from this number, but it only rings twice… It seems to be a computer-initiated call; those loser telemarketing people…

    Calls from the 3rd and final number, 7607058888, have lead to comments with differing information: some of our users could neither accept the call in time nor call back as the call was disconnected before the first ringing, others were asked to provide personal information. User AH2013 is especially annoyed by the time the number was calling at:

    called at 3:31A this morning.can’t return call to see who or why calling at 3:31A

    Here’s to hoping that you won’t receive any nuisance calls this week! – But if you do, don’t hesitate to share your expierences on Tellows to warn other users.

    Take care,
    Your Tellows Team


    The Most Annoying Callers this Week


    Dear tellows friends,

    It is about time to tell you about the most annoying phone numbers in the US this week. Tellows users were especially searching for the following numbers:

    1. 234567890 with 4 comments and 1214 search requests. tellows Score: 8
    2. 2149695489 with 2 comments and 481 search requests. tellows Score: 9
    3. 2107363080 with 2 comments and 501 search requests. tellows Score: 7

    Our first place is the number 234567890. The scammers here use one of the recently most common and unfortunately most effective ways to betray you and get your money. Julian35 reports on it:

    A man with a heavy accent claimed to call from “Computer Support Department”. He wanted to fix my computer because he has a virus. I hung up then. Be careful with this number!

    As it is not a new scamming method, we already reported on it in our Blog. Also users in the UK commented on this number. Be careful here, this scam is highly dangerous!

    The second number this week is apparently kind of creepy. Mary Ann reported:

    a call came in and it was a woman who said she was dating my boyfriend and she claimed that he belongs to her now. Surprisingly, she knew our names and everything. the number was traced to a texas land line (dallas). This sounds very bad and i am afraid, does anybody know this crazy woman????

    And also donna told us:

    creepy guy said i had a sexy voice. first two calls from operator asking if I’ll accept the call..last 4 came from this creepy guy called himself frankie.

    If these kind of harassement calls accur, not only from 2149695489, but from other numbers as well, you might of course be anxious, but don’t let them scare you. Never give away your personal information, just threaten to call the police and put the phone down, this might help to keep them away for a while.

    What we know about the last number is based on the experience of user Lynnette:

    After 5mos. of calling to do a radio-station survey (they will only talk to specific people in the home)I finally asked them to quit calling because nobody they were asking for wanted to do the survey! They are still calling! I WILL be contacting the phone co. and police about harassment charges.

    Opinion and market research centers often use the phone, as it requires less time and staff to achieve as many valid answers as needed. Although they mostly have more rights in what they do, they sometimes strech the patience of the callees. Try to tell them as clear as you can, that you do not wish to get called again. You can also hand in a written explanation for that. If they still keep calling you, you can complaint and take action. Have a look at your rights here.

    your tellows team!


    Our new Top 3 of the most annoying telephone numbers


    Following telephone numbers are our new Top 3 of the most annoying ones last week:

    1. 234567890 from an unknown place with a tellows Score of 8
    2. 5707068800 from Wayne with a tellows Score of 8
    3. 6518293110 from Minnesota with a tellows Score of 8

    All numbers of the Top3 were scored with an average of 8 but 234567890 were definitely the most annoying one. Users searched more than 600 times for this number. Julian35 tried to warn us:

    A man with a heavy accent claimed to call from “Computer Support Department”. He wanted to fix my computer because he has a virus. I hung up then. Be careful with this number!

    5707068800, our second place, comes from Wayne. Users Ryan and amy complained about the rudeness of the callers:


    These people called and were very rude, I found out that this number belongs to American Credit & Collections in PA.


    Now i try to call them back repeatedly and they just keep hanging up. Really ???? What kind of collections company is this???? VERY RUDE!

    Our attentive users know our third place very well. It’s again 6518293110 from Minnesota. Still beware of this number and never give any information to them!

    That’s it from the last 7 days. Have a nice weekend,

    your tellows Team!


    The US Top 3 Annoying Numbers


    1. 6518293110^from Minnesota – St. Paul with a tellows score of 8
    2. 2143965554 from Allen with a tellows score of 8
    3. 18883263482 with a tellows score of 9

    Congratulations! You’ve just won 1 Million Dollars!! or did you?? User Amber share her experience with our 1st number:

    „They called me saying that I was selected to win $1 million dollars and at first it sounded reasonable but as the phone call progressed it was clear it was a scam. They wanted to know my bank and if I had a Visa Master Card. Then they tried to get me to buy magazines. I tried to decline and someone hung up on me. I called back to reassure I wasn’t going to recieve or end up paying for something I didn’t ask for and I was informed I wouldn’t. I should have just hung up I know, but I’m young and made a dumb mistake. Since this phone call, people have been calling my around the clock. „

    The 2nd number is a confused telemarketer as user Giulio Moro points out

    „Person calls and leaves message that they spoke to me last week about reducing my credit card payment interest when I never spoke to anyone there about anything. Fraud or incompetence? „

    If you get a call from the 3rd number 18883263482 please contact the police, it seems to be a man with an indian accent claiming you owe money, he asks for your social security number and if resisted starts to curse and threaten, so if you see this number don’t even pick up.

    That was our report for this week

    Kind regards!
    Team Tellows


    Religion and Profit – the 3 US Most Wanted Numbers


    Here are the top 3 most annoying phone numbers of this week:
    1. +17675034697 from Dominica with a tellows score of 5
    2. 4254069024 from Seattle – East suburbs with a tellows score of 6
    3. 8003187853 toll-free number with a tellows score of 7

    Last week’s top spam number 0012538203089 got expelled from the list of top spammers of the US. Now, the Dominica number moved from second to first rank! We did not find out any more information yet, except that this is another typical silent call or ping call number. Meaning: a callcenter is giving people automated calls from a list of numbers they probably bought. The automate is checking active numbers in order to provide them with telemarketing calls later.

    For the Seattle number on rank 2 user Payback\’s a bitch reported:

    A total scam. Called with offer to lower credit card interest rates. Attempted to obtain credit card account numbers and personal information. Keep them talking, waist their time as long as possible, act as dumb as you can. Let them explain everything. I faked a bad line and had the suckers call me back twice. How incredibly stupid are these people! Unbelievable!

    Well, there’s not much to be added…

    On rank 3 we arefacing probably the most ridiculous of all harassment calls and spam/scam methods… User Jack reported:

    It’s some call from a preacher who claims himself a prophet, asking for entering his prayer. An unnecessary call to answer.

    … and user Jayne added:

    Left message on cell phone saying they were going to save me. I’m on DO NOT CALL LIST. This is an unsolicated call and seems to be calling many people.

    Sad enough that these scammers count on the hopelessness and naiveness of religious people. Might be just a question of time until someone will read him the riot act.

    Give us more information and help everybody to find out about and recognize scammers!

    Take care,
    Your Tellows Team


    Slam Spam and Scam! The US Top 3 Of The Week


    Here are the top 3 of the most annoying phone numbers of this week:
    1. 0012538203089 from Washington with a tellows score of 7
    2. +17675034697 from Dominica with a tellows score of 5
    3. 7572146785 from Virginia with a tellows score of 9

    Last week’s top spam number 0012538203089 stayed on first place and has about 3646 search requests by now.
    Bad news for everybody who fell for it: this is another PC doctor scam number.

    User Bear from Switzerland reported:

    Got 2 calls (Switzerland)

    Just someone telling you your computer is infected by viruses, and asking you to give him direct connexion to your computer to repare it!!

    Do not answer any request from this number/person

    He is absolutely right, for this is a widespread scam.
    We have reported about this scam method before:

    These wannabe Microsoft employees will spin tales about the most malevolent of software and the ways your PC system was infected by it. According to the American computer forum the fraudsters will try to lure you on onto their website to download a software called Teamviewer. This program enables the scammers to access your PC directly and, therewith, provides them with the opportunity to download and install malware, manipulate your system settings and spy for personal data. However, Microsoft will not call to warn you of a potential viral infection and offer support for free. Microsoft is not ignorant of the scam and was quick to publish an article on their investigation into the matter on their windows blog.

    For further information see our blog article on PC doctor scam

    We count on you in the struggle against phone spam and scam! We need you to share vital information about fraudulent phone numbers.

    Take care,
    Your Tellows Team


    For Thine is the Silence – The Most Wanted Spam and Scam Numbers of the US of A!


    A stitch in time saves nine. A look at tellows in time saves you from nine. Nine? … Starting off with position number 3 of our most wanted numbers of the week, we can see that we have a cold caller from Sparks there with a tellows score of 9. Annoying people with their calls and refusing to remove people’s numbers from their list – that’s the way they work.

    Rank two goes to an unknown caller from Colorado/Denver area. We have no further information about the number, only that this number is making ping calls. Only one comment, but the number of search requests (239) gives a hint that there might be more to tell…

    On rank 1: A Dalaware number obviously operating worldwide. So far, we received comments from America, Asia and Europe.

    1. 3023573644 from Delaware with a tellows score of 6
    2. 3015953840 form Colorado/Denver area with a tellows score of 9
    3. 7024754857 from Sparks with a tellows score of 9

    john reported:

    I live in the Netherlands (Europe)
    While talking on the phone I received a secondary call from number +13023573644.
    When I called the number to know who called me, it went straight to a pre-recorded message from a female voice asking for an authorization code!!?
    Very Fishy!!!

    Iqbal wrote:

    I live in Karachi, Pakistan and I received a call from this number today. When I called back, the voice recording asked for an authorization code.
    Seems too fishy, but you never know.

    Addi commented:

    i received call from that number 26 may, and i was unable to pick that number, Iam from pakistan

    We hope to find out more about all numbers, but especially about the one from Colorado/Denver area.

    We’re looking forward to reading more of your comments!

    Take care!

    Team Tellows


    A Voyage to the Annoyed World of Harassing Nuisance Callers – The USA’s Most Wanted Spam and Scam Telephone Numbers


    As time slips by and seconds turn to hours in merely an heartbeat, days and weeks and months predetermined by routine, the reason for nuisance calls vanish into oblivion and the only notion remaining is annoyance – annoyance en masse. Although time may heal many wounds, dozens of small, even tiny, wounds every day will bleed even the strongest aurochs dry – given time. Hence, deny them time and share your experience with the world:

    Amanda says.

    They are calling my phone 5 or 6 times a day. Same guy/same company I asked them to put me on their do not call list and he hung up on me..

    1. 2532468514 From Tacoma/Washington with a tellows score of 6

    2. 3233319189 From Los Angeles with a tellows score of 8

    3. 9712201003 From Oregon with a tellows score of 8

    First place goes to an yet to be identified caller from Tacoma/Washington. According to the statistics the search requests grow continuously due a balanced activity in April. The Second caller claims that there are legal charges set against you. This numbers activity increased by the end of april. The last number belongs to telemarketer trying to sell home security systems.

    Deanna warns:

    This number first called my cell phone and said something about “do not ignore this call. There are legal charges pending against you.” I disregarded it, then they called my work! I called them back, and this guy said I had an unpaid cash advance loan for over $3,000, that someone would come to my work (they knew they name and address of my employer and my bank!) and arrest me in the next 2 hours if I didn’t pay the loan. First I freaked out and asked how I could prevent it. The guy then said, “Well, it could be that the legal proceedings could be avoided if you pay $609 today.” This sounded weird to me, so I said I was calling the police to verify this information. Then the guy got nasty with me and said, “Go ahead. I wish you luck as this situation unfolds.” I called the police, described the situation, and the police officer said, “You can’t be arrested for a debt. That’s a civil matter.” I asked her if it was a scam, and she said yes. I had to contact my cell phone provider to have their number blocked, and I reported it to my manager at work, too. These people are terrible!

    Don’t stay quiet! Share your experience with the Community!

    Take Care!!!
    Team tellows