Revenge against the scammers

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A Queenstowner’s exacted revenge on a would-be scammer, accessing his computer using information the scammer provided, bulldozing his hard drive, crashing the phone systems and collecting as much information as possible on the way.

DeepFocus boss Eden Brackstone tells Mountain Scene he gets two or three calls from scammers a week.

Usually he has a “bit of fun with them”, impersonates Home and Away character Alf Stewart and endeavours to waste their time.

But on Monday when the would-be scammer, purporting to be from Spark, asked to use TeamViewer software to switch screens with him, he got a taste of his own medicine.

The scammer, who Brackstone believes is either based in India or Africa, had provided his password (123456) so there was “no hacking involved”.

“He essentially gave me the keys and all I did was walk through the door.”

Brackstone hasn’t encountered that before, so started screen and audio recording and kept the scammer on the phone for a few minutes until he had what he needed before hanging up.

Unfortunately the scammer forgot to end the session, so when Brackstone saw his screen had been inactive for 10 minutes he figured he was “away from his desk”.

The Apple Consultants Network member had “full, unrestricted access” to the scammer’s computer and decided to use it to his full advantage.

“Some people might frown upon what I did with that access … [but] I proceeded to disable and delete their data and systems in an effort to disrupt their destructive activities.

“I’m sure someone, somewhere would take issue with the fact I may have compromised this gentleman’s livelihood … but they do worse to people every day.”

Brackstone collected all the client details, information about who the scammers are calling, where and when, the auto-dialling system, the software they’re using and the companies they’re impersonating.

He killed all active calls other scammers were on and placed an internal call to another party. When it was answered music blared down the phone, letting them know their system had been compromised.

“At that point I was wrestled for control. Unfortunately, my efforts to call them again or re-establish the connection have not been successful, but I’ll keep trying.”

By then, though, Brackstone had formatted the scammer’s hard drive – in layman’s terms, deleted everything, including all his personal information and “pirated movies”.

“At the very least this gentleman will be very upset to see his hard drives … erased and his colleagues will probably be pretty pissed off with him considering he let a victim into their system. What a colossal idiot.”

Brackstone says he has “no idea” what, if any, consequences he may face, but is in contact with Spark and plans to hand over information he’s collected to aid the fight against scammers.

He says calls out-of-the-blue by a provider alerting them to a security threat are, “in 99.9 per cent of cases,” scams, and recommends people hang up immediately.