Saturday, September 10, 2011

Frauds and Scams

I usually hang up on these people. This guy was a little more convincing. He talked fast and gave me a deadline of a few hours before my computer would crash and no longer be protected. I stayed calm. I asked for a name and telephone number. I noted the time 1:02 p.m.

My name is "Mike Wilson" he announced. I don't think so, my brain told me. The accent was clearly not that of a Mike Wilson. Then he gave me a microsoft telephone number beginning with the area code "209"....California. "I'm calling from microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington," he said. I have since looked up the number he gave me (209) 753-4864 Landline Likely Location: California (Angels Camp) Calaveras County.  That was Red Flag #1. When I looked up the number from which he actually phoned, the "unknown name" call came from (253) 802-0308 Landline Likely Location: Washington (Auburn) Seattle-Tacoma metro area, King County. I hesitated, although I know for a fact that microsoft has a 1-888, 1-877 and 1-866 numbers (looked it up while he was talking). I have heard that some calls can be rerouted from such countries as...oh...let's say India, through U.S. lines.

"Your computer has been hacked by someone in China. It has been used to transfer funds from different accounts. We will have to call the cops immediately if you don't respond and do as we ask right now. Click on the windows sign on the bottom left and go to computer."  Red Flag #2 - Representatives of a legitimate company calling police officers "cops"? I don't think so.

"How do I know that you're legitimate? You could be anyone phoning. Why have I received no other information regarding this?" I asked.

"We notified you on your computer many times. You didn't respond."

My brain starts to think. Could be I suppose. I don't pay attention to everything that comes up.

"I don't think so. I have anti virus and firewalls and all that stuff. Perhaps I'll call the number you gave me later and see." I suggested.

"Oh no ma' must act right now. Your computer is not protected. It has been hacked. You will lose all your data in a couple of hours. Your info is out there and is being used for illegal purposes. We will be calling the cops as soon as you hang up."

"Thanks Mike, go ahead. I'd like to talk to them."

"Wait, you don't understand this is urgent. You must act now. I will connect you with my supervisor. Here he is."

So then the "supervisor" got on the phone...same accent. I requested his name...Shelton Valentine. Right. I received the same spiel and was told I could purchase an updated security for $390. Seemed odd. I didn't think it was necessary to purchase this from microsoft every three years. Besides, my computer is only 2 years old. Red Flag #3

I told them I'd get back to them later, after speaking with my husband and hung up. I researched further. I found the following article describing my exact situation and microsoft's advice.

I contacted the police to find out how to proceed. They gave me the phone number for the Canada anti-fraud centre. I discovered that they also have a website. I clicked on this site and found this headline and info.

Scams of the week

Anti-Virus Scams

WARNING:Your computer may be infected by a virus. Take preventative action now!

"Allowing someone to remotely access your computer is extremely dangerous and can leave you vulnerable to a variety of frauds. If a service provider calls and offers to upgrade your computer's anti-virus software, be extremely cautions. It's most likely a scam..."

The website is one with which every Canadian should be familiar. I am relieved that I did not allow anyone to access my computer, that I didn't make changes on my computer or give out any info on the phone. I shall report this incident when the fraud centre office is open on Monday. Mostly, I'm glad that my computer has not been hacked by some evil foreign powers who are using it to illegally transfer funds.

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