Beware the Telstra validator scam
When Esmay Gomez called me from Telstra last night to inform me that my internet was about to be shut off for 15 days I was, understandably alarmed. But it was okay, help was at hand.
All I had to do was open up a Google page on my computer and search for ‘validator’. Once I had done that Esmay felt that more expertise was required and she passed me on to her Mac specialist. He, with much better English than Esmay, wanted me to choose the top Google result (http://validator.w3.org) and then type ‘google.com’ into the validator. I do that and find a lovely red warning signal saying there are 30 errors and 5 warnings. Oh no, my computer connection has been hijacked by ‘nefarious people’, but luckily these great folk ‘from Telstra’ can fix it for a fee and access to my hard-drive.
That’s the point at which I got bored with it all and put the phone down – I didn’t hang up, just put the phone down and listened to plaintive cries of ‘are you there’ for the next few minutes before they finally gave up.
The validator scam is not new, although using Telstra rather than Microsoft is more fresh. It probably comes with a higher failure rate because, presumably, you’re less likely to fall for it if you’re not using Telstra for your internet. The scam revolves around the use of validator: That’s a legitimate service which is used by web delopers to check if their pages conform to web open standards. As virtually no page actually does properly conform it’s easy to generate that warning message. From there the scammers just need you to believe that the problem is really at your end, and that they’re there to help.
It was interesting to observe the scammers triage process. Clearly ‘Esmay Gomez’ was filtering for a first-level response, but once the hook was placed they bump the call up to someone else to close the deal. And it was amusing to listen to their smooth closer get increasingly frustrated as I turned out to be unable to follow even basic instructions.
While I was momentarily amused by the whole thing, there must, sadly, be enough people falling for this to make the time and effort involved worthwhile for the scammers.
15 thoughts on “Beware the Telstra validator scam”
Thanks for your comments – I just had a “Validator scam call too. Being busy I asked for their employee number and a number I could call them back on. They did not provide me with a tel number and insisted they would call me back.
Ah life is exciting when you have to be alert constantly !
Happened to me today. same triage – even heard a third person before they cut off as I asked for an email confirmation
I had exactly the same scam tried to be put over on me. He did sound convincing giving me his full address in Paddington NSW his ID number (which as a past Telstra tech I recognised as the correct format). He began the spiel as described in past posts and during this I asked if he had a good view from his office. He said he was several floors up and did have a good view. I could hear a dog barking in the background that began to get so loud I had trouble hearing him. I asked if he was allowed to bring his dog to work but he said no, the window was open. In a multi floored building up several floors ? When I asked how could it be that loud, he blusted and after I told him I had worked for Telstra for 40 years with the last ten years in IT support (in Perth) he hung up….
I received similar call from an Indian accent lady whom pass on to her technical person. I new that it was a scam but went along with it even pretending I was on my mobile chrome browser typing w.3c validator per instruction. He was waiting for a while as I let him hang on. I told him his a scammer and should be ashamed of doing this to innocent people. He explained if I did what he said I would see for myself the problem. I told him don’t take me for a fool and hung up. He did ring back saying he was cut off, what a tool.
I am writing this as I had a funny (odd) one today. I had one of the usual calls from a man with an asian accent with a lot of call centre noise in the background saying he was from Telstra and that there was a problem with my computer because someone had been hacking it and infecting it with a virus.
I thought I’d play along this time and see where it went.
He told me to sit in front of my computer and turn it on. Then go to a search engine – Google. This all took a fair while because he kept interrupting me and taking a long time to tell me what he wanted.
He actually got quite bossy.
When I got to this point he told me to type in “validator”.
Thats when I told him I thought this was a con job. He got even more excited and told me I had to do it.
I asked him if he thought I was stupid.
He said of course I was stupid and went on to say I was “f……..ing stupid”.
He seemed to be in orbit by this time and proceeded to tell me I was a “f——ing star” and “your Mother is a “f….ing porn star”.
After I told him I did not believe he had anything to do with Telstra he hung up.
I experienced the exact same thing. He said he is calling from Newtown, Sydney, a Telstra security team. It was very noisy and I asked him to give a number that I can call back but he told me to recall me on another line and came back, again noisy. (the number displayed on my phone as ‘unknown’ to ‘000-000-0000’) When I said “I cannot trust you” he hung up.
FYI. He gave me a licence number and my computer production number, which must be fake, and my name and email address.
I just had the call too. Annoyingly, I WAS actually expecting a call from the Telstra Technician! So I didn’t realise it was a scam straight away. They would have hit the jackpot if I wasn’t smart enough to notice all the red flags and tell them… I’m pretty certain this is a scam… why the hell would I type in my email into a strange link? Then they hung up. I must say though… there were quite a few red flags, but I can totally understand people falling for it. Here’s the number that came up on my phone: 02 4800 5417.
Just got a call from the “NBN” telling me I was having internet cut off within 24 hours if I did not do what he asked me to do.
He asked me to search “validator” from Chrome, then to put my email address into the search bar. I told him he could disconnect my internet after all, I did not want it. The phone number was 02-63672181
I have just had one of these calls also, he went real slow untill i said he didnt seem to know what he was doing. Then he speed up and got grumpy at me when i tried to question him about who he was. He then wanted to hang up on me as he had other customers that wannted his help. I said i didnt believe him. He hung up in the end.
Hi all, this scam is still live and well. I was phoned today, avoided auctioning anything, but you can see how they can be successful. Eyes wide open everyone.
Just got this call today. They said there was a lot of traffico on my internet, asked me if I had shared my password with anyone. After some talk he passed me to his supervisor. I was suspicious already, but when he asked me to google “validator”, I said I wasn’t going to install anything, that I didn’t know who they were. He reassured me and I thought googling “validator” wouldn’t hurt, and one of the pages was this one. I told him that and said I was ending the call. Thank you for posting this here!
I got called today by someone (with Indian accent) from “Optus” telling me he worked for Telstra? Actually the number came up as someone from Finland calling me. I said that I don’t have either of these 2 internet services, so he said I must have either TPG or NBN. I said no (because I don’t have them either). He proceeded to tell me I would have major problems with my internet in the next couple of weeks if I didn’t get the problem solved. So I asked him how? He started telling me to type in Validator. So I wrote it down instead. Then I said what next? He said to look in the website under validator – I said sorry I cannot see a website. He got very annoyed as this all took about 20 mins. Fortunately, I had the time to be cheeky today. I asked him where he was from and he said Newtown NSW. The conversation went for about 30 mins, when I told him that I cannot proceed further with the problem. He then explained that my internet would have big problems and I have to take full responsibility as I would not let him help me. Seriously, I saw the scam from the minute he rang. HOPE people read this and do not type in validator and get into a big problem with their internet.
I’ve had two calls in the last few days saying they work for NBN, and attempting to get the validate trick across the line. Thanks for the commentary above, I read it while on the call, and played along just to get them very excited they were getting closer! much appreciated everyone. Funny thing I was having problems with NBN, but when they couldn’t provide the incident number for Telstra I let them sit there for a while.
I have had them call several times in recent day and took the phone from my elderly mother today and talked to them.
I asked where they were from and was simply told “technical support” and that my phone was putting spam onto the network. I asked what they wanted from me several times and it appeared they wanted to connect to their servers to clean it up.
The same process as above they wanted my to type in the validator website and tell them what I saw. I didn’t do any of it and just said it was slow and they would have to wait. Increasingly annoyed they asked what was wrong with my eyes.
But my god… talk about not shutup, he could talk underwater, they would not let me ask questions, constantly talking over the top of me.
By then it was obvious they were not telstra so I simply talked over the top of him, told him to stop, when he didn’t said he wasnt telstra and this was pretty stupid. And so it went until he called me a “f…ing idiot” and hung up.
They are still at it, 29 Sept. I don’t have any Telstra services so immediately knew its the scammers (as well as being an Indian woman with not the best English). I strung her along for about 6 mins when we got tp type in validator, I pretended to do it super slow then asked which Telstra office she was calling from – Melbourne- but caller ID hidden on my phone. After asking a few times for her number so I could ring back she cut the call off. Noxious evil scammers,