Windows Security and the W3C Validators Telephone Scam

Just had a telephone call from India telling me they were representing the Windows Security Centre and that my Windows Inique ID had been shared with up to 4 other people, that my computer had been hacked and that my operating system would soon be switched off!

At first I thought that this was the old ZFSENDTOTARGET CLSID scam which I blogged about in 2010, but no, they have a faster way to scam you!

Today the scam ran as follows:

  • I was told the above – i.e. that my Windows ID had been hacked and I Microsoft were about to block my operating system in 18 hours time. However, they could fix it.
  • I asked the lady if it was illegal to have my Windows ID used by 5 other people, and she told me yes, it was. So I asked her to block it immediately and to be extra safe, I will throw my computer in the bin and buy a new one.
  • Once I agreed to use their services I was transferred to a 2nd person, this time a man who was apparently an engineer. He explained it all in much more detail. I asked how much it would cost, he could not tell me. He did say it would cost “29”, and after some encouragement he said “£29”, but that was the minimum price, the total price depended on how many errors I had. He then transferred me to a third man.
  • The third guy asked me to “open a Google page” and then in the Google search box to type “W3C validator“. This leads to the first result being
    • Note: is used by web designers to check that all their code is compliant with current HTML standards. If you put into it you will see “23 Errors, 4 warning(s)
  • One the W3C is opened you are asked to enter your email address – yes, suddenly all the errors are in the email! Doing so in my case resulted in 14 errors, 1 warning. By this point  I was bored and told the man I had “25 million errors”. He said “25 errors?” and I said “no, 25 million” to which his response was “oh dear, that is really bad”. I was then told that this meant that my email account had also been hacked.
  • I then begged him to fix it, and tell me how much it would cost. He transferred me again, to the fourth man.
  • The 4th person turned out to be the 2nd person again. He told me I had a lot of errors, to which I replied “no I don’t, the W3C validotor is used for validating the HTML on websites and has nothing to do with my email account“. This did not deter him!
  • I asked again how much? and he replied “29 euro dollars”. To which I said “what??? dollars????” and he said “sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, I made a mistake, I mean pounds“. Phew!
  • I then noticed that it was time to get my son from playschool, so said “bye, gotta go”.
  • I got as far as the front door and the first lady (not Obama’s wife) phoned me back to say she had my new Windows code. I said “thanks, please email it over, your colleague has my email address – I put it into your error tool” and hung up. They did not call back.

So, a new scam circulating. Sounds like the same people (Indian call centres) being used to sell dodgy software or services which will likely cause a lot more harm than good.

Remember: Microsoft will never call you.

The W3C Markup Validation Service

Note: a tool for web designers only, not for checking errors on your computer or email account.

wc3 validor scam

18 Comments on “Windows Security and the W3C Validators Telephone Scam”

  1. same thing was happend to me yesterday. did you have any virus, keybloggers or other bad things ledt since the indian calls ob your computer?

  2. My internet was corrupting the neighbour hood so he was going to disconnect it tomorow .
    All bullshit I I got him to google ” validator phone scam” and he read out what he saw on the screen, he says ih no no
    No that’s not us that’s another validator.

  3. Phone call today.
    First he asked me to run the command eventvwr, although saying, I am not working on an Windows Computer.
    Then he asked me to check my the Email address on the W3C Markup Validation Service, by getting 15 Validation Output errors.
    “You see, your Computer is infected!”, he said.
    Did he want to make me really scared with the red and blue dots on the screen ?
    This is not serious I mentioned. I do not trust him and I am not interested in his services.

  4. They were at it again today (15 Jun 2016) – no caller id, first guy gave the name John but sounded Indian, the second guy gave his name as Mark but sounded Scouse. Quite intrusive background noise but they insisted they were from BT and “Here to help!” though got a bit confused as I didn’t let on I was using an iMac

    Got the full bhoona – I was corrupting everyone on the same exchange, my email would fall over etc etc just about everything IT-ish apart from Hell freezing over. Got sent to Google “Validator” then to click on the W3 Validator but been there and done that – for real!.

    So …

    Kept them going for almost ten mins before I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought I was wasting their time while I was drinking coffee and eating a biscuit and having a laugh and elevenses.

    It would be good for a giggle if there weren’t folk likely to fall for the scam. Roll on the end of anonymous phone calls!

  5. They texted me a messages saying my email had been accessed from Pakistan and Belgium and to call. The man got very exasperated when I couldn’t access the web during our call and told me to stay on the line. I promptly hung up, as customer service reps are always far more polite than scammers.

  6. I got this scam call today. Is there anyone or agency where I can report this to that can take action against these clowns. The call was from Geek Tech Support at 877-898-5664. They were really insistent that I check my computer for these errors myself and that they would be able to fix. I was not falling for it. I finally hung up on them.

  7. Just had the same call told me to go onto validator type in a website I use
    I new it was I scam don’t know why just did I told the it did not work then put phone down I’m sick to the back teeth people ringing me saying something wrong with my internet or sat
    Saying their from talktalk scam after scam

  8. This hasn’t gone away!!

    I received a call today asking me to go through an identical process. The person I spoke with had a strong Indian accent and called from an international number 0017223005680. He told me he was from BT and was calling because there were a number of broadband errors in my area and they (BT pah!) were trying to resolve them and offer security. I told him I wasn’t on BT but he kept trying. Fortunately for me whilst pretending to type in what he wanted he advised I Google’d “W3C Validators Telephone Scam” and this article came up. I told him he was scamming me, he tried to deflect this to tell me I was at huge risk. I said goodbye and hung up.

  9. Lol this just happened to me. He had an Indian accent and tried to get me to go on as well. I’ve been around long enough to know when a scammer calls, so me and my brother started to mess with him. Eventually he got so annoyed he told us to suck his you-know-what (in a normal American accent) and hung up. LOL i got a good laugh out of it. Cheers.

  10. I was completely hypnotised by the shrewd Indian chap over the phone. He had me running all over the house switching off every computer and tablet. I downloaded Teamviewer as per his instructions. He got me to type in the web address of all my banking accounts and TradeMe, but without putting in my passwords. After about 15 minutes I balked at entering my bank account username PLUS password, even though he reassured me that he would get into trouble with his supervisor if he actually said this info aloud. About this time I got suspicious, said I had to leave, and disconnected. Then on thinking about it, I realized i’d been had. I went online to every bank account and changed my passwords. No suspicious activity on these accounts. I removed Teamviewer, even though this is apparently an innocent program being misused. Cleaned up all registry teamviewer entries too. I tried to get onto our broadband provider, Spark, and wound up in a webpage saying that Spaark was aware of a new scam of people pretending to be Spark IT entineers. Bingo!

    I suspect that my email address is llisted as “potential sucker” so my incoming email might go up.
    My only excuse for falling for this scam is (1) I’m suffering from medium level of Parkinson’s disease, am easily swayed. (2) We live in a retirement village that includes wifi and telephone, and this service was recently changed to Spark (a large NZ server). My caller announced that he was from Spark. (3) Our psuedo landline on the phone (actually on the wireless broadband) has been very unreliable in the last week or two: we can hear incoming calls but callers cannot hear our response. (4) The on-screen images were very complex, unlike the feeble “bank” emails saying “too much activity, etc… unless I provide the scammers with my login. (5) The System Error display with bright red “ERROR” notes was incredibly scary.

    Has anyone any actual evidence that these scammers are sucking info out of my computer using Teamware? A full file scan with showed nothing suspicious. And I hung up before I was asked for some money.

    Gullible Jay

  11. After more than several 100 phone calls from these Indian or Pakistanis sounding individuals telling me my computer has a virus, etc (if you are reading this, you know the scan I’m making reference to.) they finally stopped calling; however, then the “Unknown Caller,” began calling me 7 or 8 times a day to harass me out of spite in no longer able to get any money from me (some years back I fell for the scam) NOW, their new scam is the email is being used by 16 other people and they wanted me to follow their instructions-which of course would have led to access to my credit card. For 1 and 1/2 hours, and several different individuals, they cursed and insulted me out of frustration then hung up.
    I did manage to get some information ( some or all of it may be correct), as this time, 501 West Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale, California 91202 1-877-219-3611.

  12. The same scam has just been attempted on me (Feb 15, 2018) by Indian callers claiming to be from BT technical support. I hung up but they called back. I told them I would be checking with BT and hung up again. BT said this could never have been a genuine BT call.

  13. The scam is still going ! I just got called at midnight and wasted their time for a half hour. Felt pretty good to turn the tables on these idiots ! He told me I had viruses on my computer . I made him repeat all his questions/answers at least 3 times !

  14. They are stil at it!! Talk Talk engineer & I was just about to call them, as had issues with internet… so took call…!!!
    They want windows system but I’m apple.. so confused them & realised..
    They want you to go to “W3C Validator” site
    I then hung up.. rang telephone number.. No such number.. I wish I’d carried on the conversation to find out more. It sounds the same. How rude!!!

  15. Same thing today. I have a Mac, so the second person was a Mac-lady. Told her that I thought that what she was doing was criminal, which resulted in a threat. I would never be able to use my computer again if I didn’t let her help me….

  16. Still going! Just got several calls from 413971115. The indian guy said he was from Microsoft and said there were issues with my Windows or something. I said I used Macbook and he replied: “yes, yes. Now open your computer and go to this website called W3C validator” I tried to find a way for him to give me a website or something to be sure that they are not a scam. I then read this article and that the W3C Validation thingy was for web designers only.
    Don’t trust this scam. Fucking Indians

  17. I made the mistake of taking these scammers seriously years ago, since then I’ve had my computer completely wiped. For the last year and a half, I get a call from these scammers, every, single, day, I have over a few hundred blocked numbers in my phone from these people alone. I wish someone would just shut them down already.

  18. called today, told me to use validator, put in fake email and a couple of dozen warnings, errors came up. told the guy thanks for letting me know and I will take my computer to my local store. he had a shit fit. asked why he was mad, said he was a software guy, my store was only hardware, nice. then I asked him if he was an asshole or scammer. no answer, click

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