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Online "repair services" - scams or just bad biz?

 
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datababe
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:11 am    Post subject: Online "repair services" - scams or just bad biz? Reply with quote

Apologies first off if this isn't the right forum; I wasn't sure which was the best fit so I took my best guess.

I'm also not quite sure where to *start*, so I guess I'll start with the cliff notes version of my own recent personal experience:

$former_coworker goes to $former_teammate with a vundo-infested home pc. $f_tm promptly refers $f_cw to me 'n hubby. Turns out they've been on a merry-go-round for several months now with one of those "remote repair" services, soaked to the tune of $400+, and of course the pc is running worse than ever. To add insult to injury $Remote_Repair won't give them the password to remove the remote control client $RR had them install ("$RR" here stands in my mind for $RailRoad...).

A quick once over and we abscond with the box. Once on the bench with the drive out and slaved to a cranky old Linux workhorse it becomes blindingly obvious there was no way to clean this drive up so long as Windows was being started up in any way, shape or form, unless it was being started from a CD with the intent of reloading the OS (a repair was out of the question).

To try to be fair, $RR had evidently told $f_co and family they needed to reload the OS...but only after running them around in circles for months, doing various "scans" and "fixes" (the results of which we wound up - scanning and fixing), charging them hundreds of $$ (yep, first thing they required before they'd do a THING was a credit card # - surprise!!), and then leaving a remote client open and running on the box, which needless to say was the first thing I ripped off it it (grrr). I did some looking up on $RR, and actually they do appear to be (more or less) legit and to have been around a while (well, a couple of years). What chaps me is they didn't have the smarts, or business ethics, or both, to diagnose the problem properly and immediately advise the customer to either do a fresh Windows install or seek HANDS ON HELP ASAP.

Now my wind is up, and I stumbled across a different "online repair service" the other night that, unlike $RR, doesn't appear to have a single redeeming factor, and in fact the more I dig, the more red flags start waving in front of me. I'm not going to post it publicly here (well, yet), but on my sniff test it stinks, and I'm just wondering what some of the good folks here would make of:

"$89.99" for everything from "Vista and XP Repair" to "PC Tune-Up" to "comprehensive cleaning includes all viruses, trojans, backdoor infections, spyware, adware, malware, browser and DNS hijackings. Virtumonde, Winfixer, Vista Spyware Removal."

Pages that are riddled with poor grammar, bad spelling, and just too many Capital Letters and !!!s.

A "Partner Links" page that must have been thrown together rather quickly as it's titled "Untitled Document" and all the partner links were added on the same day...and some of those partner pages look rather dodgey themselves.

That's just for starters. If anyone would like to PM me I would be glad to share more info, and I am open to feedback that once again my tinfoil hat needs to be loosened a bit and I ought to get out more. Or that this is really old newz, everybody's already pointing and laughing at these jokers, and I'm late to the party again. Razz

Oh, and if anyone's gotten THIS far, we did get $f_cw's computer cleaned up and running right (faster than it's ever run, is what she's observed). Now we're just wondering if there's anything we can do to help her recoup any of her losses with $RR. I snagged their EULA off her HD along with their remote client, but I'll admit I haven't combed it yet to see just how good of a CYA job it is. Confused
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suzi
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moved here where it will be seen more.

I'm very suspicious of any site offering "remote repair". My tinfoil hat would not allow me to give access to my computer to some unknown site/company for any reason ever.

It sounds like these folks were scammed all right. I would suggest they report this so called repair service to the BBB and to the FTC. You can post the domains here, I see no problem with that. Let's look up the domain registration info and IP address -- might give some clues.

The fact they won't give them the password to the remote control client is suspicious. There may be some legit companies doing remote repair but unless you really research well, it could be hard to tell which ones are scams and which ones are just legit.

If your friends used their credit card to pay for the service, maybe they can get the charges reversed.
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datababe
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the one that's been kinda creeping me out since I tripped over it:

http://www.onlinecomputerrepair.org/

I'd advise caution hopping thru their website pages. I've been poking around behind a shield of freshly updated OSX with all settings cranked up to paranoid and still jumping a foot every time my dog sneezes. Time to break out the Linux live CD. Razz

I rather wonder if these guys know about 'em; they appear considerably more on the up-and-up, and I doubt they'd want to get mixed up:

http://www.computerrepair.com/
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datababe
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW, $RR that former coworker dealt with is these guys:

http://www.itokhelp.com/

I don't think they're scammers, really, but I find their judgment questionable. They did use some of the better tools, and steered $f_co to Kaspersky as an AV, but I still feel they kept my client (who also happens to be an old friend, so yeah - it's personal) on the hook and being sucked for cash she doesn't have for far too long.

And a $19.99/month "subscription" fee to keep a customer's pc running "like new" and to "keep you safe online"...? I'm sorry, that's what a YEARLY subscription to a good AV/malware solution is for (and you don't even have to PAY a yearly subscription, if you exercise safe surfing and use a reputable open source solution). I certainly feel like a fool...if I were charging users $21.38 per every 15 minutes just for being on the *phone* with them, let alone remoting into their pc, I could buy myself that pony I've always wanted.

Hubby and I tell our clients, if we have to see their pcs more than once a year for routine maintenance, either we're doing something wrong, or they're doing something we warned them against (so far it's always been the latter, lol).
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suzi
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On this one...
http://www.onlinecomputerrepair.org/
At the bottom of the page..
Quote:
MAKE $$ WITH YOUR OWN REMOTE PC REPAIR BUSINES
looks any jacka$$ could start their own remote pc repair business
Goes to http://www.gotomypctech.com/

http://whois.domaintools.com/onlinecomputerrepair.org

Different outfit here:
http://whois.domaintools.com/computerrepair.com

http://whois.domaintools.com/itokhelp.com

Quick Google searches don't turn up anything bad on any of them but I did not look too deep.

Last night I was looking at a legit software site -- for a program that came preinstalled on my netbook, and Kaspersky detected Trojan-Downloader.LuckySploit.m
So you never know where you might hit on a site that's been hacked with malicious javascript / iframe wanting to exploit your PC. That's the same exploit that Paul McCartney's site and the Federal Reserve were hacked with recently also. A few years ago I rarely used my AV in real time when I browsed the web, but now I would not dare do that.
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