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Internet modem switch scam

This scam is targeted at Internet users with a dial up connection or a dial up modem installed. It can also occur for users that connect to the Internet using a cellular phone.


Basically while browsing the Internet your dial up connection is interrupted and immediately your modem reconnects by dialing an international phone number. You will not notice this because it happens in less than one minute. While using the international connection you will pay very high charges that go to 1-900 like companies charging people for a service.

How it happens

This scam is usually attached to spyware programs you may unknowingly download from the Internet. Sometimes it is present on websites offering a type of service and requiring users to download a software in order to have access to this service (such as pictures, information, etc). By downloading the software you will enable the website in question to disconnect you from your dial up provider and reconnect your computer to an international location.

For users connecting via a cell phone

Internet connections through GPRS or other high speed wireless technology are at even higher risk because, unlike a regular computer modem, a cell phone does not make any noise when connecting to the Internet. Therefore there is no way for you to know when your cell phone disconnects and reconnects to another number. I've actually had this happen to me a few times and luckily the fraudulent connection was very slow so I did some checks and realized I was connected to a foreign telephone number.

Ways to avoid this scam

  • Try to avoid downloading software from websites you don't know or trust
  • If the download is necessary be sure to have an updated antivirus and antispyware sofware client installed
  • Before downloading software read carefully the disclaimer (sometimes the extra charges for connecting your modem to a remote location are mentioned here)
  • Most efficient solution: block international calls on the line you use for dial up Internet