Category: Fight Back

Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) is an international team of technical, legal and business experts that has been fighting cybercrime to protect victims since 2008.

They use their expertise with online criminal networks to uncover evidence to pass onto the appropriate law enforcement agencies throughout the world. They can also disrupt the operational infrastructure used by cybercriminals, through civil legal actions and sometimes by technical means.

DCU has developed strong relationships with local and global law enforcement, security firms, researchers, NGOs and customers to drive scale and fight cybercrime. They also use the evidence they collect to help with the development of technical countermeasures to strengthen the security and safety of Microsoft’s products and services.

Areas of Focus

  1. Tech Support Fraud. These scams are very common as the criminals involved operate this scam on an industrial scale. DCU use data analytics and direct customer complaints to investigate criminal networks engaged in tech support fraud.
  2. Business Email Compromise (BEC). This is where criminals impersonate key people in an organisation e.g. the Finance Director to get an employee to transfer funds to the criminals. BEC is one of the most prolific and costly cybercrime attacks in the world today. According to a 2020 FBI report, BEC attacks were responsible for $1.8B in losses and represent more than 40% of all cybercrime losses.
  3. In 2020, the DCU secured court orders to block malicious web applications targeting business organizations, directed the removal of 744,980 phishing URLs resulting in the closure of 3,546 malicious email accounts used to collect stolen customer credentials obtained through successful phishing attacks.
  4. This is a wide area of criminal activity and DCU focus on identifying and disrupting these criminal activities.
  5. DCU focus on payment systems and disruption of the criminal infrastructure behind these attacks.
  6. Business Operations Integrity. This means supply chains and all systems infrastructure that can be attacked by criminals.

Keep up the good work DCU.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Have Fun With The Scammers

For a scammer time is their biggest asset, so wasting their time really annoys them.

The simple approach is to listen then say something like

“Oh, just got to turn the cooker off – back in a minute”

Or “There’s someone at the door – hold on”

Or “Hold on – just got to get something”

Or anything similar

Then leave them hanging on.

You can prolong this by going back to the call for a minute then excusing yourself again for another long break while the scammer waits and waits. They do give up and put the phone down to move on to the next target.

But to really have fun at their expense, requires a little more imagination.

e.g. 1. Jack says “A scammer called claiming to be from Microsoft Support and wanting to help me sort out problems with my computer.

I agreed and let him talk through what to do but I was using my toaster rather than my computer”.

“So, now you can go to your browser”

“What’s that?”

“Browser, that’s the icon you click to access the Internet”

“OK. I’ve got a green light and a red light – is it one of them?”

“Can you move the mouse down to the bottom of the screen?”

“I don’t have any mice in my home – it’s very clean”

And so on till the dummy realised he was being taken for a ride.

e.g. 2. Bill says “I like to try to sell them something e.g. I’m glad you called cause today is your lucky day. I have a new delivery of tooth fairies and I can do a great deal with you. These are authentic, organic, low carbon tooth fairies and usually retail at 90 dollars each but today only I can get you two boxes – that’s 24 at just $14 each.

That gets them off their stupid script and confused for what to say.

e.g. 3 Jay says “I find a big enough distraction confuses them e.g. tell them you just won millions on the lottery and you’ve trying to figure out whether to leave home or go overseas”

They often break from their practiced script and start talking like a real human and ask me what I am going to do with the money.

e.g. 4. Lipu says I had one of those “your computer has a virus! scammers call me when I was driving home one time – so I kept him on the phone for the hour long drive. I kept saying I was opening the wrong folder or couldn’t find the file and then was confused about the virus and just made-up anything I could think of and started complaining about how slow the computer was.

The guy got really frustrated and clearly wanted to end the call. Finally, when I pulled into my driveway I told him – Alright, I’m home now so thanks for the entertainment. Don’t call again.”

e.g. 5. Jim said he kept getting calls from computer scammers that want to install new security for my new computer. I keep them busy for a while and ask about what computer they are talking about as I claim to have 14 which keeps them busy for a while. When she asked for my credit card to pay for the security update I give them a random number with the right number of digits and of course when they try to take payment it fails and I blame them for typing it in wrongly.

Keep ‘em frustrated and never give them any genuine information about yourself.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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OWL Online Watch Link

Online Watch Link known as OWL is an online service for Neighbourhood Watches, the Police and associated bodies involved in preventing and stopping crime.

It’s designed to keep people informed of what’s going on locally relating to crime prevention for both the public and the Police.

It’s used by a lot of the Neighbourhood Watches across the UK but not all so if you input your postcode in the Find a Watch scheme box on the home page – you may well get the message “Sorry that postcode is not covered by OWL”.

OWL has been featured on Crimewatch and is growing in popularity.

The website is

Q. How does OWL help?

Local authorities send out alerts via OWL about crime and local issues in your area. It can help to prevent burglary, find missing people, makes people feel safer and catch suspects.

OWL Has National Police Approval

There is some advice on the website relating to various categories of crime, but the website is all about the OWL service.

Searching the Internet shows that many communities have incorporated OWL into their local information websites and neighbourhood watches.

Owl was created by a British company based in Hatfield.

It seems a useful tool in crime prevention and the more communities and Watches that us it the more useful it will become.

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The Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch logo

In these day of everything going digital, does the Neighbourhood Watch still have a role to play?


Neighbourhood Watch can provide security and assurance that nothing online can offer.

The Neighbourhood Watch scheme began in the United Kingdom in 1982 and is a partnership intended to bring people together to make their communities safer. It involves the police, Community Safety departments of local authorities, other voluntary organisations and individuals and families who want to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties and to reduce the fear of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit. It is claimed that over 3.8 million households are covered by a neighbourhood watch.

Objectives of Neighbourhood Watch

  • To improve community safety generally including e.g. fire safety
  • To prevent crime by improving security, increasing vigilance, creating and maintaining a caring community and reducing opportunities for crime by increasing crime prevention awareness.
  • To assist the police in detecting crime by promoting effective communication and the prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity.
  • To reduce undue fear of crime by providing accurate information about risks and by promoting a sense of security and community spirit, particularly amongst the more vulnerable members of the community.
  • To improve police/community liaison by providing effective communications through Neighbourhood Watch messaging systems which warn Coordinators of local crime trends which they can disseminate to their scheme members, and by members informing the police of incidents when they occur.

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are run by their members through a coordinator and are supported by the police and in many divisions, a local Neighbourhood Watch Association.

A volunteer resident coordinator supervises the scheme and liaises with the police, they receive information and messages to keep them in touch with activities and some have marker kits, alarms and other security items, which are available to members. The schemes are a community initiative, which is supported by the police, not run by them, so success depends on what the members make of it.

Do Neighbourhood Watches Help to Reduce Door-to-Door Scammers?

The anecdotal evidence is that they do reduce this type of crime. This is largely because people are more aware of possible crimes and do keep an eye out for unexpected visitors to their doors. Also, door-to-door crooks tend to avoid areas where there are any signs of organisation against crime and Neighbourhood Watch areas are usually identifiable by stickers on homes and buildings.

If there is a Neighbourhood Watch in your area, then consider joining.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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When You Know It’s a Scam Call

Someone has called you with the intention of cheating you – stealing from you. Fortunately, you realise this and then have to decide what to do about this.

So, what do you do next?

The simple answer is to just put the phone down but it’s very likely they will call back – either immediately or later in the day.

You could politely tell them you know it’s a scam and put the phone down.

However, when you’re polite to the scammers, they don’t give up – they or fellow scammers are likely to keep calling back, trying to wear you down.

Some of us choose to give the caller a mouthful of bad language – shout and swear at them, tell them exactly what you think of someone who phones up trying to steal from vulnerable people. That might make you feel a little better, so why not try it.

Or you could decide to play them at their own game and waste their time.

Time-Wasting Suggestions

  1. “You say my computer is breaking the law and you’re going to help me. Thank you. I’ll just get my glasses” and leave the caller hanging on till they get bored and give up. Any repeat callers – use the same trick till they give up.
  2. Act excited and really interested. Then tell them to just wait for a minute while you answer the door. Then put your phone down and just forget about it.
  3. Sell them something imaginary. “How about I give you a great deal; I can send you two boxes of my organic homemade candles for ninety dollars and we both walk away from this as the winner” and just spend the rest of the call dodging their questions and continuing to try to sell whatever you want. Usually they give up after a few minutes, so don’t expect to actually sell anything. If they agree to buy something in order to get your address – give fake details.
  4. Keep saying “can you hold on a second?” And then put them on hold for five minutes. Get back on, say a few words, let them start talking, then say “oh dear, can you hang on again? Be right back”. Keep repeating till they give up.
  5. If you tell them you just have to go get your credit card – they will hang on for longer before giving up.
  6. Jack says he usually just start talking to them about really weird but totally made up personal problems.
  7. Acting dumb can be fun – ‘I don’t understand’ repeated each time they ask you a question can really drive the caller mad.

Be creative and really waste their time.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Singapore Scam Shield

This is a very useful APP that blocks scam messages and texts but is only available in Singapore and is only for iOS phones currently but they are working on an Android version.

That’s a shame, as we all need one of these APPS.

The APP can do the following:

  1. Block scam calls – Scam Shield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
  2. Filter scam Text messages – when you receive an SMS from an unknown contact, Scam Shield will determine if the SMS is a scam and filter the messages to a junk SMS folder.
  3. Report scam messages – you can report scam messages from other chat apps such as WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, Viber, etc. You can forward the messages via Scam Shield’s in-app reporting function.


There are strict rules on what ScamShield can or cannot read. If a message comes from a known contact, then iOS does not pass the message to Scamshield. If you have previously interacted with an unknown contact or decided to engage an unknown contact in conversation then ScamShield will not get to see the message. Only messages sent by unknown persons via SMS will be passed to Scam Shield.

Also, the APP also does not have any access to your location data or any personal data.

How does ScamShield work?

The app filters incoming calls and text messages. ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.

When you receive an incoming SMS from an unknown contact, ScamShield will determine if the SMS is a scam using an on-device algorithm and filters the messages to a junk SMS folder.

Remember, the APP only works in Singapore.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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