Pensioner targeted by fake virus phone scam

29 Mar 2010
Old man hands

Support company rings pensioner to tell him about the virus on his computer it will cost £185 to remove

A PC Pro reader was left startled after a customer support company rang his grandfather to tell him there was a virus on his PC, and then tried to charge him £185 to remove it.

The story was related to PC Pro by reader Mike McCartney, who claimed that technical support firm The Nerd Support spent two hours on the phone with his 80-year-old grandfather, walking him through the process of downloading and installing a remote desktop application to find the supposed fault.

"He had never contacted them previously, nor had he ever been on their website," said Mike McCartney. "I had only just taught him how to switch the computer on and get onto Google, he did not even have email at this point.

They showed him a fake list of faults a full-page long, then directed him to a payment area for a bill of £185

"They showed him a fake list of faults a full-page long, then directed him to a payment area for a bill of £185," related McCartney, who arrived just in time to stop the payment.

According to The Nerd Support's homepage the £185 buys one year's worth of support, however, a closer look at the company's Terms of Service reveals some worrying clauses. "The Nerd Support Group reserve the right to cancel service at any time with no prior notice, for any reason they, in their sole discretion, deem appropriate," it said.

"You agree, as our client, to be financially responsible for all services rendered. You also agree to refrain from requesting 'charge-backs' or canceling any fees or service charges paid for with your credit card," it continued.

That's not all that's suspect about the company's website. The Customer Testimonials and FAQs pages are copied from other websites, including iYogi - a legitimate customer support company - and amusingly still offer that company's phone number.

We contacted The Nerd Support ourselves using the company's 0203 "freephone" number (which isn't actually free), which took us to a foreign-language menu system. Blindly pressing numbers led us to a customer service advisor who claimed to be based in London, but refused to give us a company address, or answer our questions, before hanging up.

The company is not registered at Companies House, and a WHOIS search directed us to domain registrar GoDaddy.

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