Back up and running (early October update)

It’s been a long week. Began last Wednesday when I had been having an all-around decent day and finally made my way to the local shooting range with my revolver. All went well there, then I got home and was searching on allrecipes.com that evening, thinking of what to make for dinner, when something peculiar jumped up on my screen. And guess who wound up getting scammed. You get one guess.

Ugh. Was a stupid mistake on my part. One would think with 20 years of online experience under my belt that I wouldn’t fall for a frickin’ scam. Was a pretty sophisticated pop-up, I’ll give them that. Claimed to be a message from Microsoft and included an audible recording. Locked up my screen and spooked me enough to call the number listed.  Dumb, I know. Figured that at the time but took the chance anyway. Why? Hungry, tired, not thinking straight. Anyway, long story short, they didn’t get any money out of me and I’ve spent the last week trying to make sure they’re completely out of my computer along with any software they tried leaving behind. Frickin’ Indian scam artists looking to cause trouble and extort money is all they were. And yes, I’m a fool for freaking out and calling the number. I know. But all appears to be back to normal now, though I’ve beefed up security measures since then. Didn’t know what a VPN was before, but I do now. Learned about a bunch else too, but I won’t disclose all of that.

Going to chalk that up to a learning experience. Gave me a reason to reacquaint myself with parts of my computer that I don’t normally venture into. Been meaning to devote time to better secure this computer since purchasing it a couple years back and failed to do so, relying almost exclusively on the Microsoft products included with it. So it’s my own damn fault. Plus I should’ve known better than to think Microsoft would post up something like that on the screen. It’s not their way of doing business. But I got frazzled in the moment. There’s a first time for everything, and this was my first time to be scammed by an Indian techie-wannabe over the internet.

I will note this. They left three pieces of software on my computer: Supremo (another remote access application), CCleaner, and Malwarebytes. The last two mentioned there were unauthentic — malware. Got them all removed, then figured out my Windows Update had been disabled. Following directions on an actual Microsoft page remedied that. Ran more scans this week than I ever have on this particular machine. Had to learn command prompts and restored the system to a month back. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve fiddled with a computer to this degree, but all appears clean now. Hopefully. Let us pray…

So that proved pretty frustrating. But it’s been teaching me a good bit. And I didn’t get taken for any money. So it could’ve been worse. Glad they didn’t employ ransomware. Because they still wouldn’t have been paid and I would’ve had to kiss a bunch of files goodbye.

Last week was a dumb week all the way around. Like my brain wasn’t working right. Kept making all sorts of stupid mistakes. Decided to lay off the diet after that and returned to eating carb-rich foods with my former partner (ya know, let’s just call him “Former” going forward, for simplicity’s sake). Will resume the diet soon enough. Lost about 5 lbs. overall so far. Not sure if that had anything to do with my idiocy last week, but it certainly didn’t seem to help. Been feeling a bit better since resuming normal eating. Maybe that was the sugar addiction’s way of getting even with me for trying to overcome it. Well, I’ll let it win that battle for the time being.

Just going to continue monitoring the situation over here in days to come. Didn’t mean to conjure up drama for myself, but managed to do it anyway.  disgusted  I can just imagine how an even less tech-savvy internet surfer might wind up taken advantage of by those scammers. They were trying to finagle $240 out of me, and I’ve read elsewhere online since then that plenty of folks have actually paid them more than that. Reported them to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), for the record. And to econsumer.gov as well. And I encourage others who’ve been in contact with scammers to do the same.  These creeps gain remote access to your computer and then try to extort money from you by basically holding your computer hostage, threatening to “disable” it if you do not comply. Best to not call them at all and instead to either close down the browser completely, or if unable to do so because it’s locked up, to just go ahead and turn off the computer and reboot. Microsoft had this to say on the matter.

From what I’ve read, these pop-ups are generated by ads embedded in sites. Apparently even on otherwise reputable sites, like allrecipes.com (assuming that site’s ads are involved since that’s what I was perusing at the time). So I also shot off an email to allrecipes.com alerting them that they may want to look into their advertisements to see if they are indeed generating such pop-ups. Wouldn’t be the site’s fault, and I’m wondering if the advertising companies themselves even realize what they’re passing along. Very sneaky these scammers are.

Since then I’ve had another weird thing happening. A phone number (360-112-2000) from the Washington D.C. area keeps calling my number the last 3 days. Called about 7 times yesterday alone. The times I answered the line is silent. Searched the number online and read how others have been receiving calls from the same number, some claiming it’s silent while others claim it’s someone on the line pretending to be with the IRS or a federal agency and trying to conduct a scam. So I assume the Indian techie-wannabes passed my number along to some of their pals or else are directly involved in that scam/harassment scheme as well.

Internet gangs — that’s essentially what we’re dealing with here. Welcome to the New Age.

Well hey, at least in my week of fumbling I didn’t click on the fake Firefox Critical Update scam. It did come up, but I ignored it. Yay me.  rolleyes_smilie