Marketing Misusing ESET’s Name

Yesterday I was advised by a researcher working for another security company of a story he'd heard from one of his colleagues based in the UK, concerning an attempt to sell what was claimed to be ESET antivirus software.

The individual concerned had received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, and informing him that  notification had been received concerning a virus infection on his PC, and offering to help him to install antivirus software. When asked what antivirus software was being offered, the caller claimed that it was ESET's.

You might think this sounds like an over-zealous and ethically challenged distributor going way over the top in an effort to sell our software using techniques highly reminiscent of those used by distributors of fake AV. As it happens, though, living in the UK, I know our UK partners rather well, and didn't believe for a moment that this was anything to do with them. So I contacted them to see if they'd come across any similar incidents.

There's a rather similar though not identical story recounted by PC Pro here. ESET UK, however, had come across something almost identical, and had more information. The caller claimed to belong to a Microsoft-affiliated organization called "Support One Care" and had contacted a prospective victim to tell her that her PC was infected, her AV was out-of-date, and that for a one-off fee of £79 they would install a better product and give her a year's support. As you might have guessed, they claimed that the product they would be installing would be ESET's. When she made an excuse to hang up and call them back later, they gave her a number (0203 411 7907) which appears to be in the UK, but reroutes to India and is indeed listed on http://www.supportonecare.com, a company based in India and claiming to be a Microsoft-registered partner. When ESET UK contacted the company, they were told that "many people are calling customers pretending to be us and giving our phone number". As it happens, I've met our partners in India too, and it certainly doesn't sound like them, so I don't know who is impersonating Support One Care or why they would give out the real company's phone number….

We are taking appropriate steps… In the meantime we'd suggest that if you receive phone calls like this, that you assume the worst. But if anyone has first-hand experience of this – well, let's be polite and call it a marketing exercise – I'd be very interested to hear from them. In particular, I'd really like to know what it is these guys actually install, if anything!

Thanks to Andrew for the heads-up, and to Paul and Alan for the further information. 

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Research Fellow

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http://www.eset.com/blog/?p=4330

Author David Harley, ESET

  • PCBruiser

    Hi,

    I’m one of the Admins at SpywareHammer, a web site devoted to helping PC owners with infected systems. Our completely volunteer services are absolutely free, and most of us came from CastleCops when it closed down.

    This scam sounds like an identical one we have been tracking for some months called FixOnClick. for more information. It sounds exactly like the same group. If you Google FixOnClick, there is what sounds like an earlier version of the same scam, also from India, called SupportOnClick. I thik it changes names when the UK authorities get wind of what they are doing, and they move on with the same scam, but different name.

    If we can be of any further help, particularly in analyzing what the scammers put on systems, please free to contact us.

    • David Harley

      Thanks. This certainly seems to be that family. Good to see Castlecops guys still on the job.

  • mandy simpson

    my mother was contacted by the company listed above yesterday and not knowing much about pc's etc, she thought they were connected to BT (shes having broadband connected and thought it was all to do with that) they had remote access to her pc for 3 hours told her everything is now sorted on it and charged her £79. she is now worried to death as i've just read the above. can they get back into her pc etc. Help advice please

    • David Harley

      It’s not possible for me to tell you what the scammers have installed on your system: it may be a cracked copy of legitimate software (possibly ours), nothing at all, or something actively malicious. There are a couple of things you can do, though.

      (1) Contact the police: they may not take direct action, but the more reports they receive of this type of fraud, the likelier they are to do something.

      (2) Look for a good local PC support specialist. Yes, it’ll add to the cost, but if it sets your mother’s mind at rest, it will be worth it. However, make sure her data is backed up before any drastic action such as reformatting is taken.

      (3) If the scammer claimed to be installing an ESET product, it may be that ESET UK can help you.

  • Wendy

    I was contacted by a guy called Matt (clearly Indian so why I thought he was English I will never now) who was from Support one care.  He said they were Microsoft Windows approved support in the UK.  He said we had a problem with our PC, had spoken to his technician and needed control of my PC to solve it.  When I asked for him to email me with the detail or tell me over the phone he wouldn't.  I said that if it was free then it wouldn't hurt to do that.  He got very angry when I challenged him, then said he hadn't said about supporting Microsoft, and said I would be sorry when my PC crashed and I wouldn't be able to sort it – so don't blame him.
     
    Obviously trying to get onto my PC to install something.  Unfortunately, my husband had taken a call earlier in the week so thought they were legit so asked them to phone back once I was there.  Other people though, wouldn't be so lucky – this is so nasty.  I really hope they don't get away with this any more.

  • Angie Dominic

    Hi i received a call from support one care on 21st nov 2010 and by coincidence i was having problems with my computer and had contacted a computer repair man who had arranged to visit later that day. This company said they will repair my system and showed me a load of red errors on my system. They were so believable i fell for it and paid them £79 which they said would cover me for a year. I left them working on my computer from their end which they said would take about half an hour and rang to cancel my computer engineer. As soon as i told him (his name is Tim) about support one care he said to disconnect my computer which i did. Tim explained they were a scam company and that they would do more harm than good and he said to ignore the phone calls that he said would follow shortly. Sure enough within 10 mins the calls started but i let them all go to my answerphone until Tim arrived. He answered and told them exactly what he thought of them.
    Tim took our computer overnight to clean it and advised me to email support one care for a refund which their email promised. Today they phoned doing their level best to get me to agree to allow them to continue what they started. My partner had answered the phone and told him i am mentally disabled (true i have ADD!) and when he refused to let up i told him i didnt want this conversation as it was confusing me – i said i just want my money back.I then passed the phone to my partner and the man told him i will get my money back in the next 7 days. I just hope he was telling the truth for a change and that i’ll be able to follow this with a message to say my money was refunded. Only time will tell! Angie

    • Randy Abrams

      And the good news is that Angie got her refund!!!

  • David Harley

    Thanks, Angie. Waiting for your follow-up: hope you get a result!

  • Toney Baldino

    I am going to go ahead and save this article for my sis for a study project for class. This is a beautiful web page by the way. Where did you find the template for this website?

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