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'I scammed the scammers' says Worcestershire cyber expert
A WORCESTERSHIRE man conned a team of cyber scammers into revealing its process of hacking into an unsuspecting person’s computer when they called him up asking for money.
As reported earlier this month by your Worcester News, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Williamson from West Mercia Police said local people had been receiving phone calls from a scam company claiming there was a fault with their computer.
The scammers had been telling residents that their computers were about to crash and requesting £200 to fix the fault.
When a similar group of people called Dale Pearson, of Pershore, at his home last month, he provided the callers with a “virtual” or fake computer for them to hack into.
The IT technician, who specialises in information security and social engineering tactics, recorded both the call and the operations they were carrying out on his “computer” then uploaded them to YouTube to make sure no one else would be caught out.
He said: “I had a phone call from these scammers, so decided to play along and created a fake computer for them to hack, and recorded the events so others can witness what happens if you play along.
“I had heard of people being conned by this sort of scam, but I had never had the privilege myself and hadn’t seen a lot online about the details of the scam.
“So I thought I would keep them on the phone for a while to run up a bit of a bill for them, and at the same time get my virtual private network and virtual machine up and running to see exactly how these guys operate.”
He received the first of eight calls at 9am when he was given an initial explanation as to why they were calling – that on behalf of their certified Microsoft technical support team, they were going to show Mr Pearson what was wrong with his computer and fix it for him.
He followed their instructions and was directed to the site ammyy.com where he was told to click two links which then gave the scammers a remote connection to his virtual machine.
“The guy on the phone started telling me I had all these errors and warnings in the event viewer and this was caused by software on the internet," he said.
"One guy was doing the quick talking, while the other was uploading backdoors – a method of bypassing normal authentication, securing illegal remote access to a computer – to my virtual machine, opening command windows and listing directory structures and then telling me my ‘software warranty has expired’ and this was the reason I had all these errors and my computer ran slow.
“But I was in luck, they said, because for £199 and my credit card details they could renew this warranty for me, then my computer would be better than new.”
This was when the call between the scammer and the 34-year-old ended, but not before he called their bluff and thanked them for hacking his computer at which point they threatened him with problems the next time he turned it on.
Mr Pearson also published a full account of his experience on his blog which can be found at subliminalhacking.net.