Pity the poor employees of companies like “Windows Technical Support”—scammers who make money by “fixing” computers that were never broken in the first place. For the people who pose as Windows support technicians and cold call unsuspecting victims to warn them about bogus viruses, life is good as long as they can wrangle credit card numbers and remote PC access from the gullible.

The scammer—who is generally from India but claims to live in the same country as the victim—tells whoever picks up the phone that their computer has been identified as having a virus. The scammer directs the user to look in the Windows Event Viewer, which shows a generally harmless list of error messages, and then says that this is a sign of serious infection. From there, the scammer convinces his mark to install a piece of software allowing remote access into the computer to clean up the problem, and to pay several hundred dollars in fees for the service. It’s often known as the “ammyy” scam because users are sometimes directed to http://www.ammyy.com to install the remote desktop software.

Not everyone falls for it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) didn’t, last week busting six fake tech support companies with names like Virtual PC Solutions and PCCare247 after having undercover agents pose as victims. Ars editor Nate Anderson didn’t fall for it, either, playing a helpless victim on the phone for 15 minutes before revealing that he knew what had been going on the whole time.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/technology-lab/~3/3nMjUvo-Tv0/