Police issue warning after computers scammers target 40 victims

Picture from stock

Picture from stock

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Police are issuing a warning to the public following after 40 computer scams across the county have taken place since the start of June.

In the scam, a person rings the victim and states they are from a computer company such as Microsoft. The offenders have been using a number of different tactics in an effort to steal money from victims.

Some calls see the offenders explain that there is a problem with the victim’s computer, for example that it has a virus, and go on to say they can fix the problem for a fee.

In other instances the offenders persuade the victims to grant them remote access to their computers. This is where a person can control the computer from anywhere in the world, allowing them access to personal files and data, including bank account details. It also allows them to place viruses on the machine, which they then charge the victim to remove and can cause irreversible damage.

In nine instances reported the the police people have lost money to the offenders.

Detective Inspector Danny Lawrence, who leads the ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit, said: "Whilst it is of concern that this type of scam has been successful in a number of cases, most people are recognising the call for what it is and we have been working with Microsoft’s security team and Action Fraud in order to tackle this scam.

"As can be seen, it isn’t a particular group of people targeted by the offenders: people of all ages have been contacted and it is possible a large number of people have not reported being called, so I would urge people to remember and share the following advice:

"Computer firms, like Microsoft, do not make unsolicited phone calls and do not send unsolicited emails, requesting personal or financial information or offering to fix people’s computers. 

"All unexpected calls and emails should be treated with suspicion and if you receive such correspondence you should hang up or delete the email. Never reveal your personal or financial details in these circumstances. Never allow anyone to remotely access your computer as they could access your personal data and files and cause damage to your machine.

"If you do need to contact the company for assistance or assurance, remember to contact them directly by using the details found on your contract or another trusted source."

Anyone who believes they may have been targeted by this scam or has information in relation to these incidents can telephone Hertfordshire Constabulary via the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively you can report the scam to Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

Comments (7)

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5:38pm Wed 6 Aug 14

The Rover says...

This scam has been going on for years, and 40 complaints is just the tip of the Iceberg. Many, many more people realise this is a scam and just hang up the phone without reporting it.
This scam has been going on for years, and 40 complaints is just the tip of the Iceberg. Many, many more people realise this is a scam and just hang up the phone without reporting it. The Rover
  • Score: 15

7:33pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

I must have had this type of call at least half a dozen times in the last 5 years. I reported it once but just tell them to get lost nowadays.

On one call I tested their IT knowledge by letting them take me through the scam to the point where they wanted money. Their IT knowledge was almost non-existent and they were following a script by the sound of it. The trouble is, it all sounds plausible to those without much IT knowledge.
I must have had this type of call at least half a dozen times in the last 5 years. I reported it once but just tell them to get lost nowadays. On one call I tested their IT knowledge by letting them take me through the scam to the point where they wanted money. Their IT knowledge was almost non-existent and they were following a script by the sound of it. The trouble is, it all sounds plausible to those without much IT knowledge. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: 7

10:19pm Wed 6 Aug 14

watford_bob says...

I let one get pretty much all the way through. He had me type in a web address to 'remotely fix' my computer. When it didn't work I let him go through the whole sequence all over again, kept him on the phone for about half an hour. Then I told him I use a Mac, not a PC. I nearly died laughing at him swearing at me in a strange mix of Indian/English...
I let one get pretty much all the way through. He had me type in a web address to 'remotely fix' my computer. When it didn't work I let him go through the whole sequence all over again, kept him on the phone for about half an hour. Then I told him I use a Mac, not a PC. I nearly died laughing at him swearing at me in a strange mix of Indian/English... watford_bob
  • Score: 9

10:58pm Wed 6 Aug 14

theturpster says...

Check out the site 419eaters dot com to see how scambaiters are fighting back. Some hilarious photos in the gallery :)
Check out the site 419eaters dot com to see how scambaiters are fighting back. Some hilarious photos in the gallery :) theturpster
  • Score: 3

12:44am Thu 7 Aug 14

Gary_B says...

I've had loads of these. I usually play along for a while before giving them a load of abuse. At least if they're wasting time with me, it means someone who isn't as computer literate probably isn't being scammed.
I've had loads of these. I usually play along for a while before giving them a load of abuse. At least if they're wasting time with me, it means someone who isn't as computer literate probably isn't being scammed. Gary_B
  • Score: 6

9:32am Thu 7 Aug 14

Hampermill-Mike says...

I get these idiots at least once every 2 months, I had one yesterday. I have developed several answers to the "virus" list ( in fact the list which windows produces and is quite legit and safe ).

1 When asked to look at the list of "viruses" tell them that the two columns are blank, and keep telling them ( even though they wont be )

2 I told them I had just updated the computer AND its replacement was still in its box unopened. He still insisted that the new pc which had never been fired up had a virus.

3 I tell them is a Pizza delivery company and then go into a list of the pizzas they could have "would you like coleslaw with that ?"

4 Ask them for their phone number as my wife deals with the PC, she will ring them back when she finishes her shift at the Police Station ( click "hello? hello"

5 when they tell you they are "from Windows" tell them you have just had new ones fitted and also a new patio door.

OK, I know what to listen for and I enjoy winding them up for minutes on end ( I cannot believe they can be so bloody stupid ).

If ANYONE tells you they are from Microsoft or Windows they are lairs. If you don't fancy talking simply put the phone down.
I get these idiots at least once every 2 months, I had one yesterday. I have developed several answers to the "virus" list ( in fact the list which windows produces and is quite legit and safe ). 1 When asked to look at the list of "viruses" tell them that the two columns are blank, and keep telling them ( even though they wont be ) 2 I told them I had just updated the computer AND its replacement was still in its box unopened. He still insisted that the new pc which had never been fired up had a virus. 3 I tell them is a Pizza delivery company and then go into a list of the pizzas they could have "would you like coleslaw with that ?" 4 Ask them for their phone number as my wife deals with the PC, she will ring them back when she finishes her shift at the Police Station ( click "hello? hello" 5 when they tell you they are "from Windows" tell them you have just had new ones fitted and also a new patio door. OK, I know what to listen for and I enjoy winding them up for minutes on end ( I cannot believe they can be so bloody stupid ). If ANYONE tells you they are from Microsoft or Windows they are lairs. If you don't fancy talking simply put the phone down. Hampermill-Mike
  • Score: 6

9:52am Thu 7 Aug 14

Celest says...

I have also received a lot of these calls with an Indian accent. The man once swore at me because I didn't want to do something on the computer he wanted me to do! He asked me if I don't trust him and I said no. Then he swore at me some more, where I promptly ended the phone call. Love and behold - he phoned me back again to ask why I put the phone down in his ear! So, I told him that I don't appreciate the language he uses when he speaks to me, and then he started explaining to me why he is angry, and why he swore at me?!

Two days later another lady contacted me, and then I confronted them saying that I am aware that this is a scam, and that I am going to post it on my FB Page as a warning. She promptly ended the call, and I have not received a call again.
I have also received a lot of these calls with an Indian accent. The man once swore at me because I didn't want to do something on the computer he wanted me to do! He asked me if I don't trust him and I said no. Then he swore at me some more, where I promptly ended the phone call. Love and behold - he phoned me back again to ask why I put the phone down in his ear! So, I told him that I don't appreciate the language he uses when he speaks to me, and then he started explaining to me why he is angry, and why he swore at me?! Two days later another lady contacted me, and then I confronted them saying that I am aware that this is a scam, and that I am going to post it on my FB Page as a warning. She promptly ended the call, and I have not received a call again. Celest
  • Score: 2

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