Fraudulent IT support calls…
If you have not experienced one first hand, you likely know someone who has. Typically, the victim receives a call from someone claiming to work for Microsoft in their IT support department. The fraudster explains how a fault has been discovered on your PC and they want to help fix it. But there is no fault, only a large bill to pay after they have gained remote access to your PC and uploaded files that make it look like there’s an infection. If the victim pays, the fraud may end there, but sometimes a month or so later another call is made telling the victim they are due a refund. If bank details are handed over, even more cash is taken rather than a refund being issued.
Now four of the people behind these scam calls have been caught – the arrests include a 29 year old man and a 31 year old woman by Woking, Surrey and Sussex Police Cyber Crime Unit, and a 37 year old man and 35 year old woman in South Shields. All four arrests were on suspicion of fraud. City of London Police collaborated with Microsoft for two years in order to track down the fraudsters. Victims of this so-called “software service fraud” are thought to have paid out hundreds of millions thinking they were sending the money to Microsoft and a range of other reputable companies in return for a PC fix.
According to Action Fraud, 22,609 computer software service fraud reports were made during the 2017/18, financial year, which should give you some idea of the scale of this fraud. As for the calls, they were mostly traced back to India, meaning they were working from scripts and told what to do. However, they must have known what there were doing to carry out the remote access and uploading of files. City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has shown that men and women are equally susceptible to being targeted and the average age of a victim is 63.
This kind of fraud is not going to disappear and four arrests is just the tip of the iceberg. If you receive a call like this simply end the call. If you know anyone susceptible to believing such a call is real, take the time to explain it’s a scam and offer them the alternative of contacting a reputable IT support service such as Frankenstein Computers and Networking if they are ever concerned about their PC.
Adapted from an article on www.pcmag.org
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