'I scammed the scammers' says Worcestershire cyber expert

Tewkesbury Admag: COUNTER-ATTACK: Dale Pearson of Pershore-based Subliminal Hacking, who turned the tables on hackers. Picture by Jonathan Barry. (4913466901) Buy this photo » COUNTER-ATTACK: Dale Pearson of Pershore-based Subliminal Hacking, who turned the tables on hackers. Picture by Jonathan Barry. (4913466901)

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.

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“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.

Comments (16)

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8:20am Mon 9 Dec 13

Guy66 says...

The Indian lad is now being flogged by the nasty south African for not 'recueing the call'
The Indian lad is now being flogged by the nasty south African for not 'recueing the call' Guy66

9:40am Mon 9 Dec 13

green49 says...

Well done for this, i also liked the guy who did the cold phone callers in court for hundreds after he had warned them he would be charging for every minute they called him after he said he didnt want any more calls from them.

Name and shame them all.
Well done for this, i also liked the guy who did the cold phone callers in court for hundreds after he had warned them he would be charging for every minute they called him after he said he didnt want any more calls from them. Name and shame them all. green49

3:38pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Guy66 says...

Guy66 wrote:
The Indian lad is now being flogged by the nasty south African for not 'recueing the call'
Marks down for a little joke - what sad people

and a correction to me typing - Rescuing
[quote][p][bold]Guy66[/bold] wrote: The Indian lad is now being flogged by the nasty south African for not 'recueing the call'[/p][/quote]Marks down for a little joke - what sad people and a correction to me typing - Rescuing Guy66

3:54pm Mon 9 Dec 13

leemo79 says...

Fair play Dale for highlighting this and allowing people to see exactly how this works.
Unfortunately there are some out there that still fall for this as they make it sound so convincing.
I hope this video attracts the attention it needs and raises awareness of the scam.
Fair play Dale for highlighting this and allowing people to see exactly how this works. Unfortunately there are some out there that still fall for this as they make it sound so convincing. I hope this video attracts the attention it needs and raises awareness of the scam. leemo79

4:54pm Mon 9 Dec 13

mauro balbino says...

"(...) little insight to what they say and do to prey", Mr Pearson?
Lots of insight, I would say instead, after your excellent work.
Now, please, save us from NSA :D
"(...) little insight to what they say and do to prey", Mr Pearson? Lots of insight, I would say instead, after your excellent work. Now, please, save us from NSA :D mauro balbino

7:55pm Mon 9 Dec 13

pmppaul1 says...

I do it every time they phone, just so funny when they realise that I am on a Mac.
I do it every time they phone, just so funny when they realise that I am on a Mac. pmppaul1

8:08pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Guy66 says...

A fairly basic scam by the people involved using an industry standard and easily available sharing application. Nice idea if you can build a simple web page and get a bunch of phone numbers. But never take a cold caller for real, never install any application from an unknown web source. Only open attachments is you're 100% sure you know their origin and several 100's of other common sense precautions....

Questions anyone receiving a cold call should ask are "how do you know my PC is broken?" or "why is your URL not from Microsoft and you state you are from the company" or say "really you must be a f'in clairvoyant!"

Now sad people thumb down this one!
A fairly basic scam by the people involved using an industry standard and easily available sharing application. Nice idea if you can build a simple web page and get a bunch of phone numbers. But never take a cold caller for real, never install any application from an unknown web source. Only open attachments is you're 100% sure you know their origin and several 100's of other common sense precautions.... Questions anyone receiving a cold call should ask are "how do you know my PC is broken?" or "why is your URL not from Microsoft and you state you are from the company" or say "really you must be a f'in clairvoyant!" Now sad people thumb down this one! Guy66

9:37pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Ctrl Alt Del says...

I've had a few of these, usually I let them rabbit on for a bit, then let them listen to the TV for a bit while "I turn my PC on", oddly they never seem to wait very long.
I've had a few of these, usually I let them rabbit on for a bit, then let them listen to the TV for a bit while "I turn my PC on", oddly they never seem to wait very long. Ctrl Alt Del

7:53am Tue 10 Dec 13

green49 says...

I have a tape of a very load feedback from an amplifier which i play on the phone, they dont call back.
I have a tape of a very load feedback from an amplifier which i play on the phone, they dont call back. green49

8:53am Tue 10 Dec 13

New Kid on the Block says...

Interesting to know a bit more about what these scammers are up to .
I strung one of them along for a while once and found out what site he wanted me to go to. I then checked using google and found that it would allow him to take control of my computer.
I was sure that allowing him to control my computer wouldn't be to my benefit so I decided not to do as requested and hung up the phone.
As long as people remember that no-one from microsoft or windows or anything else to do with your computer will ever ring you up you should be safe from this scam.
Interesting to know a bit more about what these scammers are up to . I strung one of them along for a while once and found out what site he wanted me to go to. I then checked using google and found that it would allow him to take control of my computer. I was sure that allowing him to control my computer wouldn't be to my benefit so I decided not to do as requested and hung up the phone. As long as people remember that no-one from microsoft or windows or anything else to do with your computer will ever ring you up you should be safe from this scam. New Kid on the Block

8:23am Wed 11 Dec 13

copierman says...

They also claim to be BT calling regarding your computer problems.
Everyone knows BT ain't that good.
They also claim to be BT calling regarding your computer problems. Everyone knows BT ain't that good. copierman

2:11pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Lord Newbold says...

Dale that was great to watch and very entertaining. I only wish I could create a virtual computer.

We have just had these conmen telephone this morning. Asking about my computer. When I answer “what computer” they hang up. It works every time.
Dale that was great to watch and very entertaining. I only wish I could create a virtual computer. We have just had these conmen telephone this morning. Asking about my computer. When I answer “what computer” they hang up. It works every time. Lord Newbold

6:07pm Wed 11 Dec 13

dulon says...

Best bit of free advertising that I've seen for a while !
Best bit of free advertising that I've seen for a while ! dulon

10:05am Thu 12 Dec 13

Ted Elgar says...

I really hope the noise in the background is his dog eating..
I really hope the noise in the background is his dog eating.. Ted Elgar

10:57am Thu 12 Dec 13

chrism says...

Well done Dale - I've always wanted to do that, but never had a working VM of the right sort available when they've called - though I once got them to walk me through as far as the point where I was supposed to install something to give them remote access. When Windows 8 was still in Beta I did have a VM with that just waiting for them to call as I was interested to see what they made of it, but they never called.
Well done Dale - I've always wanted to do that, but never had a working VM of the right sort available when they've called - though I once got them to walk me through as far as the point where I was supposed to install something to give them remote access. When Windows 8 was still in Beta I did have a VM with that just waiting for them to call as I was interested to see what they made of it, but they never called. chrism

9:38pm Thu 12 Dec 13

RichE76 says...

Would love to play along too... now where did I put the Win 95 image?!
Would love to play along too... now where did I put the Win 95 image?! RichE76
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