back to article Payments firm accused of aiding 'contact Microsoft about a virus' scammers must cough $650k

Two execs and a multinational payment processing company must pay $650k to the US government, says the FTC, which accuses them of knowingly processing credit card payments for Microsoft-themed support scammers. The Justice Department and the Feds claim [PDF] Nexway, along with a web of related companies based in France, …

  1. ITMA Silver badge

    They've tried calling me before

    I've had a couple of calls like that.

    Oddly they didn't get very far:


    "Just press the Windows key and...."


    "I can't see a Windows key on my keyboard"


    "What is the make of your computer?"


    "Erm... It says BBC Microcomputer"

    Strangely he asked several more questions trying to identify my "PC" before the penny dropped LOL

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: They've tried calling me before

      I went to the effort of setting up a Windows 98 VM so that I could be on a Windows computer and still all their stuff wouldn't work (and I wouldn't have to dive into my memory to simulate what 98 would have done in response to their instructions). I still don't get any tech-themed scam calls. It is weird to be disappointed by not having criminals calling.

      I used to get some more basic scams which started with a robot trying to weed out unlikely targets before the expensive humans got involved. I'm not sure whether my response to that was instrumental in getting them to stop or if they would have gone away anyway, but in case others want to test it, I followed the following process:

      1. Answer any call from an unknown number.

      2. Make a noise from your end, but it doesn't have to be hello.

      3. If it's a human, they'll assume you greeted them and will start the conversation.

      4. If it turns out to be a bot, just say nothing and wait for them to disconnect. If they call back, do it exactly the same way again.

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: They've tried calling me before

        >> Answer any call from an unknown number.

        We just let any unknown number on the house line go to answerphone, if genuine they will start to leave a message

        99.999% of the time it is just a few seconds of silence, strangely the answerphone response does not trigger anything !

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: They've tried calling me before

        " I still don't get any tech-themed scam calls. It is weird to be disappointed by not having criminals calling."

        The only one I got was one I found on the missed calls list. As you say, disappointed.

    2. MrBanana Silver badge

      Re: They've tried calling me before

      The Windows key on my Linux laptop isn't mapped to anything they expect, so that's a few minutes of fun. They do now understand that you may be on a Mac, but I haven't been down that branch of the Q&A flow chart. If I have the time, I'll string them along - hopefully to save someone less savy from their crap. It's amusing when they escalate the call to their manager, who gets more and more enraged the more stupid I act. "which key is control", "I'll just reboot", "that's someone at the door" - my record is 54 minutes. Strangely enough, their threat to shut off my internet didn't actually happen.

      1. Kernel

        Re: They've tried calling me before

        "The Windows key on my Linux laptop isn't mapped to anything they expect"

        Yes, been in that situation with one of them as well - but only after we'd spent the best part of 15 minutes trying to make it work, at which point I was informed that yes, my laptop did need to be turned on first.

        After 30 minutes (this is when it was realised I needed to be running Windows, not Linux for all of this to work as per script) the conversation got quite terse - my friendly Microsoft support person listed all the things he was going to come and do to my wife - I told him that she was fine with that so long as he washed the smell of the goat he'd previously fucked off first - the call ended at this point, I think we got cut off.

      2. Bluto Nash

        Re: They've tried calling me before

        My IBM Model M keyboard doesn't have a Windows key. That's blown their minds a few times as well:

        "What's at the bottom left of your keyboard?"

        "Cee tee arr ell?"

        What is next to that?"

        It's blank"

        "??? You're lying"


  2. anothercynic Silver badge

    Only $650K... the rest suspended... I'd have nailed them for everything, and made them chase down the suspects in India.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      The rules are different for you and me. Notice how the company was accused of "knowingly" sending money to criminals?

      Now see what happens if you get accused of a crime. Ignorance is no defence for us.

  3. HMcG

    " "The FTC will not hesitate to use its law enforcement powers to stop them."

    Well clearly that's not true, or the fine would not have been reduced from $49.5 million to $650,000. Because $650,000 is just the cost of doing business for a scammy parment processor on a %.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Was refunding victims also required?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Story time.

    5 years ago at work (I'm IS) talking with two people about phone scams when the network guys gets a call, says hey IS we got one. I take the phone and say how can I help you. The fake tech tells me our computer is infecting the internet. I say that must be my son, I make it sound like Im yelling at my son for doing something with his PC. tech trys to tell me what is happening, I tell him to hold on we are turning on the computer. they direct me to log files and say "see those errors that is your computer infecting the internet" THEN - I tell the tech it will never happen again and make sound of smashing a PC, then we make noise like I am beating him - the tech on the phone is going "Sir Sir, stop you don't have to"I reply in a stern voice This will never happen again, and we resume the fake beating as we hang up on the scammer. We had a great laugh.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge


    So in America an accomplice to a crime just has to pay a small fee and promise not to do it again and start to earn an honest living and there will be no significant consequences.

    Wow. It's a good job they don't do anything else serious there, like, you know, letting everyone carry a gun if they want.

    Still at least they have the libraries under control.

  7. Mike_in_Oz

    If I have time I like to boot up an Ubuntu VM and then let them try to walk me through the attempt to connect. What does my screen look like (ergh, its kindof purple) etc. My wife gets mad with me, but like others here, I feel that I may be protecting some elderly would-be mark. We can spin this out for a while before I casually mention its Linux...

  8. yoganmahew


    I pretended my only computer was a dumb terminal connected to an IBM mainframe. Then I suggested using my teletype console printer and sending a printout of the response.

    Another time, I acted like he was a double-glazing salesman and whenever he mentioned windows, I would say I already bought new ones and describe them.

    Mostly I ask them to hold on a minute and put the phone down by the radio/stereo and walk away.

  9. Steve Kerr

    When I get round to it, going to set up a VM that talks out to a squid proxy that will redirect to a local webserver hosting my "bank".

    The PC will be in its own subnet so can only see the local gateway which will route stuff specifically.

    Going to group policy it to the eyeballs and then go thru the entertainment of wasting their time.

    My current go to name to give them is Benjamin Chow or Ben Chow for short - say it together and then look up Hindi swear words :-)

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      "My current go to name to give them is Benjamin Chow or Ben Chow for short - say it together and then look up Hindi swear words :-)"

      I have GOT to remember that! It just became the password to my machine if I ever get called.

  10. Martin Summers Silver badge

    My best reaction was when they finally twigged I was having them on, after I said "I can see a picture of a penguin on my screen" and I then said to them, what would your mother think of you doing this? What would your god think of you scamming people? Whilst the scammer literally screamed noise down the phone at me. I think that was 40 or so minutes, which was good going considering I wasn't even in front of a machine.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got one, long ago. I was aware of the practise having read so much about it here, but it was the furthest thing from my mind when I finally got one and it was so unexpected that I burst out laughing. Realizing I'd blown the chance to string the guy along, I hung up, resolving to be prepared the next time. But there never has been another one.

  12. AlexMonro

    My responsponse to tech support scammers

    I got one of these scam calls a few years ago, when I was actually at my Linux machine (PCLinuxOS at the time). I played along as the typical dumb user, doing what they said, and giving the responses that I saw. Eventually, after half an hour of more, I got bored, so I told them I was running Linux and told the to fsck themselves.

  13. AaronCake

    Multiple Layers

    I keep a copy of Windows 3.11 for Workgroups in DOSBOX on my BlackBerry Classic for these calls. Sadly none of them have yet stayed on the line long enough after I switched them to speaker for this to be fun. I think being put on speaker for them is a clue they are about to be trolled.

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