Software Maniacs charging to install free version

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by Dave49, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    I had a Dell Inspiron 5000 series laptop running Windows 10 x64. One day I got a BSOD with a note to call the included "technical support" toll free number. I was warned not to try and reboot or do anything else before calling the toll free number for help, or I could lose my entire hdd and everything on it because I had a very bad virus infection.

    So, I called the number thinking I was talking to a Microsoft technician. I was told this is a very bad infection and it could be repaired remotely but first they had to transfer me to another section for me to buy the protection. They transferred me to Software Maniacs. I was told the software protection would cost for so many years of free help, or I could pay $525 for lifetime support. So, I took the lifetime support.

    Once the money was paid, I was transferred back to "tech support" and they had me use the windows key+r so they could get remote control of my machine. After that they told me it would take 25 to 30 minutes and they would have my machine fixed.

    I watched the screen to see what all was being done. First 360 Total Security free version was installed and run. Then Glasswire free version was installed and run. Then CCleaner free version was installed and run. And after playing around for the allotted time, I was called back and told to reboot, and my machine would be alright.

    Wonder of wonders, they were right.

    But I then contacted Microsoft by chat, and they confirmed this was a scam and the number I called during the BSOD was not a Microsoft number. So I began a dispute resolution with Bank of America to try and stop the transaction. But of course they have to wait until the transaction posts before they can begin the dispute process. After a couple days went by after I began the dispute, the machine just crashed and became unusable. I believe this was retaliation for me filing the dispute, and so I would have to call them again to fix my machine. Then they would be able to contest the dispute because I used their service again.

    So, anyway, there were no documents, no email confirmation of the transaction, no nothing. I can't even prove I got the BSOD with the note to place the call. So there is little chance I will get my $525 +$10+ foreign transaction fee back. They use the bank's regulations against them and me.

    Just thought everyone would like to know so you can avoid the trap I fell in to.

    Thanks for reading.

    Dave
     
  2. Rasheed187

    Rasheed187 Registered Member

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    I don't want to sound harsh, but didn't all bells started to ring when they asked you more than 500 bucks? No offense, but I can't believe that quite a lot of people are actually tricked by this type of stuff. But thanks for sharing this story, it might help people, you never know.
     
  3. itman

    itman Registered Member

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    The key to recognizing these scams is here:

    One day I got a BSOD with a note to call the included "technical support" toll free number. I was warned not to try and reboot or do anything else before calling the toll free number for help, or I could lose my entire hdd and everything on it because I had a very bad virus infection.
    A BSOD is called a "blue screen of death" for a reason, a cryptic error display from the OS which is indecipherable by any one other than a tech trained on OS internals from which no recovery is possible.

     
  4. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    @Rasheed187, of course I felt uneasy. But I was taking it all in together. The BSOD, the note telling me to call tech support, the toll free number, etc. I had no idea a hacker could cause the BSOD and also give the pop-up note to call tech support or risk losing all data on the hdd. Ok, I'm in my 70s is no excuse. I am probably one of those people who should never have a computer. But there was so much irreplacable stuff on the hdd that I was over cautious.

    @itman, I know what a BSOD is. I've had them before. And I also know Windows has a remarkable ability to fix itself with several re-boots. But the note to call tech support said the BSOD was caused by a sinister virus which looks for financial information, and for me to not try a reboot without calling the toll free tech support first to have my situation evaluated and possibly fixed. So whatever happened to the computer could have been designed to destroy the hdd if I didn't do what the pop-up note said. Consider it ransom ware, if you like. Just on a smaller scale to target end users and not corporations. But I did not think of that at the time, I just wanted the thing to be fixed, and my wife was going bananas because it is a computer I bought for her to use for everything she needed. LOTS of sensitive info and irreplaceable stuff.

    After a little while, I acted on my suspicions, and when I found out for sure it was a scam, I filed a dispute for the charge on my cc. I am ok with losing that money along with the foreign transaction fee because I made the decision to pay it in the first place. Totally a "my bad" situation.

    A couple days after filing the dispute, the computer became unable to boot, and kept asking for a password to finish booting. No password we used worked. Big surprise!. We knew what happened. They were kicking our shins for filing the dispute. By then I called the computer manufacturer for help. They advised me to reset the hdd to company settings completely wiping the drive. It was then I thought about an Acronis backup I had for a few months before this happened. It was a chore, because the program took several tries to install and get activated. Acronis TI seemingly didn't recognize the computer and had to transfer the program from the "old" computer to the "new" one. Anyway I finally got that done and restored the backup. The computer works very well again, and not much data was lost. WE are happy with this. Of course all passwords were changed along with the router SSID. So far no more problems. Several hours work.

    Sure I got a bad feeling about this at the time. But with all this happening together, I let myself be panicked and paid the money. Totally my fault.

    But there could be others out there who might have this happen to them as well. Figuring I might not be the dumbest person on the planet, I wanted to make others think of this because the cc company said they get this kind of complaint every week. So BEWARE of Software Maniacs. They might be a good company other wise, but they are running this scam as well, maybe on the side. I would never give them any business ever in the future. And you shouldn't either.

    (ps.) Of course they could change their name and continue the scam. But keep following them with this knowledge of being hackers/scammers, and maybe they will either go out of business, or be plagued by people being on to them.

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
  5. TairikuOkami

    TairikuOkami Registered Member

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    You know, make sure to verify claims before posting them, since even online blackmailing comments are accountable at court.

    https://www.scamguard.com/software-maniacs

     
  6. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Dave

    They won't go out of business, but you have to be more aware. Stop and think a minute. If you get a BSOD, you have no other choice but to reboot. So that they tell you not to reboot but to call them has to alert you something is wrong.

    Also I never respond to a solicitation. I tell them I will find a number and call them back even if legit. I had a comcast contractor call me once to "help me be sure I had all the correct services" . I got a bit nervous when he asked me to confirm my current services. I told him if he was legit he should have my account and would know the services. When he didn't, I hung up and called Comcast. Turned out he was legit but just inept.

    YOU HAVE TO BE ALERT.

    Also you should have adequate backups that it wouldn't matter.

    Pete
     
  7. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    @ TairikuOkami, But the cc company paid the charge to Software Maniacs.

    Transaction date: XX/XX/XXXXSOFTWARE MANIACS LTD REDDITCH
    Transaction date:
    Card type:
    Transaction type: Purchases
    Merchant description: COMPUTER PROGRAMMING, DATA PROCESSING, SYSTE

    I removed some info for my privacy.

    Is this not who was paid?Or is this not Software Maniacs? Is there more than one? Someone let me know and I will delete my post.

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  8. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    You are quite correct. Thanks,
    Dave
     
  9. Joxx

    Joxx Registered Member

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    yeap :rolleyes:
     
  10. Logethica

    Logethica Registered Member

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    @Dave49 ....In my opinion you deserve a great deal of respect for making your post..:thumb:
    Nearly everybody that owns a Computer will have made a mistake of some sort...For example,5 years ago I managed to "Clean" numerous necessary Drivers from my PC:D..
    If your post helps one person to avoid a similar situation then that is justification for making it.:thumb:
     
  11. syrinx

    syrinx Registered Member

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    @Dave49
    Were you by chance on amazon.com at the time? I got asked to look at someones PC about a week, week and a half ago with a similar BSOD error.
    They said it popped up right after they went to amazon.com but before they clicked anything so I figured if anything it was a bad ad (malvertising) being served up that redirected them to the fake bsod pop up.

    They called me over instead of calling the number it gave them and after seeing the screen I recognized it was fake (due to the mess of unrelated error strings, any of which would have tons of google results...and the fact that the computer was in fact still operating with a mouse and alt-tab worked) so I flipped the power off on the PC, removed the drive, did the normal scanning etc then installed MBAE free and an ad blocker and so far there have been no repeats or further issues. In the case I saw there was no actual virus or malware detected (Aside from an ask.com toolbar PUP) so it was just a scare and attempt to get their money... Could have easily been ransomware in its place and I was dreading that was the case but thanlkfully it wasn't!
     
  12. itman

    itman Registered Member

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    This might shed some light: http://www.bbb.org/mississippi/busi...software-maniacs-ltd-in-flowood-ms-235824360/

    Appears there is a rouge outfit operating out of the U.K. with the same name. This would explain the foreign exchange rate fees you were charged? Since they now have your credit card number which might have been their intent all along, I would contact your card issuer and start having any transactions monitored.
     
  13. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    Thanks very much.
     
  14. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    Already done. See my original post. Thanks.
     
  15. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    Nope. Wasn't me. Thanks.
     
  16. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    I have no idea. I had my card cancelled, and a new one issued. Thanks.
     
  17. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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  18. syrinx

    syrinx Registered Member

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    hehe, sorry I was just sharing a similar experience I had seen recently not asking if that was you :p

    I was trying to ask though is if you happened to be be online (browsing) when it popped up and more specifically if you happened to be on amazon at the time like the person whos computer I was asked to look at.
     
  19. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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  20. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    Oh, sorry. No, I didn't see that. Thanks.
     
  21. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    I found them by searching on google. They have trouble with BBB. This site will not let me post a link, so all I can say is they have a D- rating and there is a clickable link in red saying there is an alert on this company. Sorry but they won't let me post the link for you.
    Dave
     
  22. itman

    itman Registered Member

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    @Dave49, there is a possibility you might be able to get your money back but need more incident details.

    What you were subjected to is ransomware; plain and simple. Unlike the common ransomware delivery and infection methods that clearly indicate the activity is malicious with extortion intent, this version disguised itself as a legitimate means to recover use of your PC.

    Do you recollect installing any "grayware" security software recently prior to the incident? By "grayware", I mean PC security software not directly downloaded from a major vendor such as Eset, Symantec, Avast, etc.? If so what was the name of the software?
     
  23. Dave49

    Dave49 Registered Member

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    I don't recall anything like that. We were just using Windows Defender and Windows Firewall. No outside stuff at all. Thanks.
     
  24. itman

    itman Registered Member

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    I would first file a police report stating you were a victim of ransomware. Make sure you reference the BBB link on the rating given for the U.K. company. Make sure you get a copy of the report.

    Then contact your card issuer stating that you have filed a police report of the incident and you want to dispute that foreign transaction for fraud reasons. If your card issuer is like mine, they will send you an affidavit that you have to fill out and get notarized. Make sure you attach a copy of the police report.

    This should be enough to get the transaction charged back to the turkey U.K. vendor. Scumbags like this outfit thrive on people not doing anything about their fraudulent activities.
     
  25. itman

    itman Registered Member

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    I would also recommend that you install a security solution from one the mainstream AV vendors. A product that has strong potentially unwanted program/application i.e. PUP/PUA protection. Eset and Emsisoft for example both have strong PUA/PUP protection.

    It is highly likely that this bogus infection blue screen malware was installed as a PUP/PUA "piggybacking" on the installation of some application software you installed. Although it could have also been a drive-by download or the like. I also recommended you post your situation on one of the malware removal web site like bleepingcomputer.com or malwaretips.com. There is a strong possibility that the "crapware" could still be resident and active on your PC.
     
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