Someone got in touch with me recently about a computer query because, thanks to the combination of the magical letters IT and the extent of my perspective-less confidence, they naturally thought I could solve their problem.

My friend had been contacted by phone and advised that their computer had been infected with a virus, which could be resolved remotely (by about 4500 remote miles, it transpired) and for a mere £199 or thereabouts, the computer would then be as safe as Fort Knox – not counting that one time with Goldfinger.
It’s easy to scoff at these seemingly obvious scams, but my friend was both unworried and unused to checking out anything suspect on Snopes. So, rather than get immersed in Technical Support Auto 4, I reverted to my Sherlock Holmes persona.
1. How could the caller know your number? Answer: “I don’t know.”
2. How could the caller know you had a computer? Answer: “I don’t know.”
3. How could the caller know your computer runs Windows 7? Answer: “I don’t know.”
4. How could the caller know your computer has a virus? Answer: “I don’t know.”
Some bright spark somewhere will one day write a book, CD and developmental workshop on The Healing Power of Logic.
Logically, they could not have all that information unless you had given some of it to them previously. And the only way they could tell your computer was infected with a virus was if they’d been able to scan it or if you’d accidentally sent them an infected file. Not really a three pipe problem. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and smells like a duck, it’s probably a duck; either that or a goose with a growth hormone deficiency.
In a similar vein, when a writing opportunity presents itself, logic is king. If it looks like a scam, sounds like a scam and smells like a scam, it’s probably a scam; either that or a solid opportunity with a growth hormone deficiency. And more on that another time.

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