Question Computer Tech Scam?

Dec 17, 2019
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I think we might have been scammed. I'll start from the beginning.. My husband and I recently got brand new computers, his is a desktop and mine a laptop. He uses "AOL Desktop Gold" for his web browsing and email. It's software from AOL that you download and subscribe to for $5 a month. Anyway, he couldn't remember how to re-install it on his new PC, so he said he googled "AOL Gold" and clicked on a link to re-download it and when he did an error message came up and it wouldn't install. All of a sudden he says a chat window supposedly from AOL opened and asked if he needed assistance. He said yes and then they proceeded to look up his account information. This person knew his current home address and previous addresses, and also that he's been with AOL for almost 20 years. This person then asked for his phone number so they could call him. He did and it was a man claiming to be from AOL. My husband must have gave him remote access to the computer because then the AOL guy said the software won't download because your computer has a bunch of errors showing up and he proceeded to show him on the screen. My husband said, how can that be? It's brand new out of the box! The AOL guy said that we must have a Trojan virus on our network. He started telling my husband not to do any banking or shopping online and to change passwords. Then he put him through to a Tech Support company that he said was affiliated with AOL. They told him they could fix the problem for free but he had to pay $300 to subscribe to their firewall service for 3 years. He agreed and then we allowed remote access to our computers so he could install their firewall protection and get rid of the Trojan. They told him they wanted us to pay by check and wouldn't accept a credit card. My husband sent them a scan of the check made out to them which he later mailed.

After some thought, we googled this company and saw things about them being a scam. The next day we went to our bank and let them know what happened. They changed the account numbers, etc. I had to wipe out our hard drives and reset our computers' back to factory to get rid of all the stuff they downloaded on our computers. I even wiped out the hard drive on my old laptop which they didn't even touch, because I was paranoid. Now that laptop is running slower than it was before! It should be like a brand new computer because the hard drive was wiped clean, no? I just don't understand any of this.. If anyone has any thoughts I'd appreciate it.

Sorry this is soooo long,

Jen
 

Eximo

Titan
Herald
Sounds like a scam, yes. Payment by check (rather then credit, which can be reversed), large but reasonable sum of money for the 'service'. Targeting a platform that is known by many, but basically defunct. I know a lot of people still use AOL, including my father, but they haven't been relevant, beyond being a dial up provider, for a long time.

When in doubt, go directly to the website of the company you are seeking things from. Check anything you click in google that you are spending money on with care.

Companies like that don't have people actively reaching out to customers. If he didn't initiate contact, then they weren't legitimate.

Good on your for catching it so quickly and taking appropriate steps. If you aren't confident your protective measures were enough on the computer side of things. Consider taking your computers to an authorized service center and having them run additional scans on the hard drives.

Typically these type of scammers aren't that sophisticated, but they can by spyware/malware made by smarter people.
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
Scam indeed.

"AOL guy said the software won't download because your computer has a bunch of errors showing up and he proceeded to show him on the screen. "

Most computers accumulate errors of some sort or another but generally are simply and routinely handled by the software.

"No harm, no foul".

Likely Reliability History or Event Viewer was the source used. Actually "misused".

Fairly common as a scare tactic.....
 

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