Scammed by PC / Web Network Experts? Here's What to Do

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Sally S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Last week I was using the web browser and suddenly I received an alert that my PC needed to be updated, and told me to call 855-558-9222 855-500-0395 to fix the problem. I called the number and spoke to someone with an Indian accent. They connected to my PC and installed a firewall and some other programs. They told me it would cost $199 to fix it, or I could pay $799 as an 'upgrade' for a 5 year tech support contract (which I did). I am still receiving pop up advertisements on my machine and it appears that I am no better off than when I started. I have tried to get in contact with the company to have them look at my machine again, but they will not return my calls. After reading your article about Live PC Experts and Informatico Experts, I believe I have been scammed and am worried that they still have access to my machine. The name of the company is PC Network Experts (pcnetworkexperts.com). Can you please help! "

Update 20200116: I'm getting a lot of emails from folks asking for help on this. If you let these scammers into your machine, you are at risk of having your bank accounts drained and/or identity theft. If you need help ASAP, send me an email and don't forget to leave your phone number. I will call you back as soon as possible (after 1 PM EST).

My response:

I asked Sally if she would like me to connect with her using my remote desktop support service in order to investigate the issue, and she agreed.

Below I will discuss my findings.

PC Network Experts and Web Network Experts = Fake Tech Support

First and foremost, if you ever receive a notification that there is something "wrong" with your PC and to call a 1-800 number to "fix" the "problem", it is undoubtedly a scam. Second, if you signed a fake contract for "tech support" - don't worry, it's fake - just ignore that fact and keep on reading!

This scam in particular is no different than the ones being perpetrated by "Informatico Experts", which I have mentioned many times previously. Informatico Experts also go by the name "Live PC Experts" (livepcexpert.com). They have other aliases and fake company names, and "PC Network Experts" (and now "Web Network Experts"). It seems that they start up a new fake company name at the beginning of every year.

After connecting to Sally's computer and examining the fake firewall and other programs they installed on her machine, it is consistent with the other fake security programs being installed by Informatico Experts and Live PC Experts (which are the same company). The fake security programs they install do the exact opposite of what they're meant to do and will put you at major risk of having your bank accounts drained - or worse!

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Note: Information below has been updated as of 20200116.

Based on my experience in dealing with this scam over the past 6 years, it goes WAY deeper than losing money for fake technical support.

Here's what really happens:

  1. Once the scammers connect to your machine, they will tie you up on the phone for as long as possible, stating they are actively "examining the problem". While this is happening, the scammers are looking through your computer for bank and tax statements, any passwords you may have lying around, and download it to their servers.
     
  2. At the same time, the scammers will install multiple remote access backdoors so they can get back into your PC whenever they want.

    The remote access backdoors serve multiple purposes, including:

    a) being able to connect to the machine at a later date in order to steal more financial information, monitor your activity, record keystrokes, including passwords to financial institutions.

    b) being able to propagate more scams by remote. For example, they will upload malware to the machine at a later date (without you knowing it) then call and say your computer has been hacked. This time, it will cost more money than the initial scam - usually hundreds of dollars more.

    c) the remote access will guarantee your payment to them. If you don't pay, they will punish you remotely by deleting your files or lock you out of the machine. This has already happened to many of my clients.
     
  3. All of the above will repeat indefinitely until the bank accounts are drained and/or the victim wises up.

Scammed by PC / Web Network Experts? Here's What to Do

If you let the scammers in your machine, here's what you need to do:

  1. Power down the machine and do not use it until it can be properly cleaned. If it's powered off, they cannot connect to it.

    In terms of having the machine cleaned: you are free to take it where you like, but please be advised that most computer places / tech savvy people have absolutely no clue where to look to undo the damage caused by the scammers. Trust me when I say this, because I've been dealing with this scam for over 6 years and the scammers don't make it easy to remove their remote access backdoors on purpose.

    In one case, a client of mine took his machine to Best Buy and asked specifically for them to remove any remote access backdoors and malware. I warned him against this and he agreed to have me look at it. When he got it back, I examined the machine and found that Best Buy had missed 5 remote access backdoors and a keylogger, which would have recorded his keystrokes (passwords) and sent them to the scammers. In short: he was no better off than before he gave them the machine, plus he's out $150 - the price for bad tech support. You have been warned!

    On the other hand, I am a senior systems administrator (view my resume here) and have been dealing with this scam for over 6 years and know exactly where to look and undo the damage - contact me here. To date I have found close to 20 remote access backdoors and variants used by the scammers. I can also provide evidence that I am who I say I am if you need it.
     
  2. Once the machine is cleaned and remote access backdoors have been removed, I will outline a plan to retrieve your funds.

    Timing on this is critical, especially if you paid by credit card. I have a very high success rate in getting my clients' money back, but it also depends on the circumstances. For example, if you paid by check then you are going to be in a lot of hot water because now the scammers have the full name and address of your financial institution, your bank account number, address, your name, etc. That said, I know exactly what you need to do in order to keep your money safe. Note that if you paid by gift card, the money will not be recoverable.
     
  3. Don't answer the phone when the scammers call you back - and believe me, they will!

    The scammers like to do fake follow up call to make sure you're happy with their fake technical support services. This is all part of the illusion to make you feel like you've been in contact with a legitimate tech support firm. Here's the kicker: if you're not happy with their services, they will try to convince you to let them back in the machine. DO NOT DO THIS. In this case they will likely try to do a reverse refund scam. This happened to one of my clients and she lost an eye-watering $20,000 dollars! This is NO JOKE.
     
  4. IMPORTANT: if you cancel a charge and the scammers find out, they will seek retribution (punishment) and delete all your files / lock you out of the machine / make it so your Internet stops working. This can be a costly fix. Ideally you should contact me first, have me remove the remote access backdoors, then proceed with reclaiming funds - otherwise you will be punished by the scammers in one way or another.

Update 20200116: I'm getting a lot of emails from folks asking for help on this. If you let these scammers into your machine, you are at risk of having your bank accounts drained and/or identity theft. If you need help ASAP, send me an email and don't forget to leave your phone number. I will call you back as soon as possible (after 1 PM EST).

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If you are reading this article right now because you've been scammed, I can help. I get emails all the time about this scam; some people even ask me "How do I know you're not a scammer, too?" My response to this is that you can read my articles I've published over the last few years and also review my resume. Based on that, you should be able to understand that I am in fact legitimate, compassionate, and am more than willing to lend a hand - simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Comments

hybridauth_Google_101510763754258784692's picture

The gentleman I do some work for had his computer totally freeze up yesterday and of course he was directed to call a telephone number which he did. They took over his computer and after spending $749.99 & four hours on the telephone with them he believed his computer was not only running better, that he has lifetime support & security, free tune-ups, ad blocker tool and anti-hacking tool. I noted the telephone number you listed is the same telephone number they gave him to call for monthly tune-ups... 855-500-0395. The name of the company is Highpoint Strategies, Inc & the telephone number listed is 800-941-0740. This is a company located in Florida but no longer is active as far as the State of Florida is concerned. TOTAL SCAM. Beware.