Beware the Telstra validator scam

validator scamWhen 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 ( and then type ‘’ 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.

5 thoughts on “Beware the Telstra validator scam

  • November 8, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    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 !

  • April 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Happened to me today. same triage – even heard a third person before they cut off as I asked for an email confirmation

    • October 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      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….

  • December 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    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…… 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.

  • February 13, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    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.


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