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Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scam in Lawrence area involves so-called tech-support call about computer viruses

April 15, 2012

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The phone call came out of the blue.

But Lawrence resident Martha Town, 69, was ready to listen because she had been having problems with her computer at home. The caller claimed to be a technical support analyst either for Microsoft or Cisco Systems Inc. — she can’t remember which one — and he later turned her over to a woman he said was his female supervisor.

Over the phone they had walked her through several steps on her computer before telling Town that her computer’s software license had expired. She was eventually taken to another screen the woman claimed would examine her computer for viruses.

Then a screen popped up that asked her to pay $107.

“I said, ‘oh no, I’m not paying anything until I have someone else check this out,’” said Town, who retired in 1998 as superintendent of the Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, Kan.

She eventually terminated the call without giving a credit card or bank account number. Days later, after having conversations with her nephew, who works with computers, and a tech at Geeks on Wheels in Lawrence, who fixed her computer for much less than $107, Town learned she avoided a likely scam that others in Lawrence were not as fortunate to avoid.

Jennifer Ludlow, the Geeks on Wheels coordinator, said she’d noticed the support company had received about 20 calls in the past six weeks about similar circumstances. In recent years, she’s heard of a similar scam involving pop-up windows that won’t go away, but the so-called tech-support phone call seems to be a new wrinkle, at least in the Lawrence area. The scam is likely an effort to get access to someone’s credit card or bank account information, which is never advised unless you can verify that it’s a reputable and secure website, she said. Secure websites start with the URL “https” instead of just “http.”

Some victims initially trust the callers enough to give them remote access to their computers, but the callers can become more aggressive, Ludlow said.

Town said she worried that older people could be more susceptible to the scam, but Ludlow said she’s heard from people across the age spectrum — from college students on up.

“This normal, rational person sounds really scared by this call. (The callers are) doing a good job in trying to intimidate or bully people or do things they normally wouldn’t do,” said Ludlow, who is also business services coordinator for Knology of Kansas, which owns Geeks on Wheels.

Microsoft, for example, on its website warns users about giving out any information in unsolicited phone calls and instead advises people to take down the caller’s information and report it to local authorities if possible.

“You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes,” the website said.

Ludlow said many of these types of scams are conducted internationally, so it can be difficult to catch perpetrators. She advised that if people did give out bank or credit card information or if they noticed any suspicious charges, they should notify their bank immediately to get their card number changed.

Town said she never purchases anything unless she absolutely knows who she’s dealing with.

“We just have to use what’s at our disposal,” she said, “which is our heads and common sense sometimes. Just check it out."

Comments

FalseHopeNoChange 2 years ago

"Nobody is monitoring your computer"?

ha. Get real.

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Shane Garrett 2 years ago

I like the comment about asking multiple questions. I got that call and all he would say is that it was the computer operating on windows. Well, I said which computer, the one at work, or the one at home. He could not tell me. So yeah, it was a scam. Both have the highest level of real time virus protection. That doesn't mean that they can't get one. But do tie up their time if possible.

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CheyenneWay 2 years ago

They called and I told them that my computer just had a whole new computer fall out of it and now all my cats and dogs are chasing little tiny computer viruses. Then I told them that indeed, turkeys can fly for short distances.

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jhawkfan05 2 years ago

PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY CALLS FROM THESE PEOPLE!!!! THEY CALL ME AT LEAST ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK WANTING TO HELP ME WITH MY COMPUTER!! THE IDOT THAT KEEPS CALLING ME IS A REAL JERK SO JUST HANG UP ON THEM!!! THEY DO TRY TO CHARGE YOU $107.00 TO FIX YOUR COMPUTER...THEY ARE ASS HOLES SO WATCH WHO YOU GIVE YOUR INFORMATION TOO!!!
*JUST A FRIENDLY REMINDER THIS IS A SCAM**

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Adrienne Sanders 2 years ago

People, even if you don't know anything about computers, apply some logic- not microsoft, not any other company is magically monitoring your computer for problems and also somehow magically has your phone number.

Never giving money to anybody who calls out of the blue is also a good rule of thumb.

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rockchalker52 2 years ago

I like the air horn idea - or a gym whistle.

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TheEleventhStephanie 2 years ago

"female supervisor" really? Supervisor wouldn't have sufficed? Ya'll write real good, Jay-Dub.

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Antonym 2 years ago

Keep an air horn by the phone.

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Bob Reinsch 2 years ago

I received the call some time ago. I work in the Microsoft space, so I started asking them some questions, and it wasn't long before I knew it was a scam and alerted my friends/business associates. Use common sense, people. If you didn't initiate the call, Microsoft isn't going to call you. If they insist it was from your computer, ask them the IP Address, the MAC address, and the name of the computer (hostname). They'll stumble over themselves. Ask them their Microsoft Partner ID #. Turn this back on them. Keep them on the phone. The longer you tie them up asking them questions about what they should already know, the more you help your fellow man. Make them waste their time. The more time you spend making them jump through hoops until they give up, the less time they have to call your neighbor. Put them on hold if you can, but NEVER let these clowns intimidate you or control the conversation.

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repete66211 2 years ago

The internet was invented to fool grandparents.

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kuhusker 2 years ago

Nice ad for Geeks on Wheels, masquerading as objective journalism.

There is a real news story (these scam calls) but rather then use as a source any of the dozen independent computer companies in town, the story just by random happenstance shills for the company that up until very recently was owned by the LJW.

All a coincidence, I am sure.

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audvisartist 2 years ago

Microsoft you say? Windows you say? Then why am I sitting in front of a computer running Linux?

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muddfoot55 2 years ago

These folks called me atleast once a week for 5-6 weeks. I hung up on them at first but the last time I challenged their knowledge of what was going on with my system and I told them I didn't believe Micro soft monitored and called people. I haven't heard from them since.

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LadyJ 2 years ago

Geeks fixed the problem for less than $107, only if you're a relative.

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KUinAussie 2 years ago

you all are so behind the curve, we were getting these calls every four or five days. the calls we got, originated from india. which makes it difficult to call block.

the article fell short in explaining these calls, as well they ask you to go to a website to scan their pc. your comp may be fine before you visit the site, but when you click on it, then your computer IS infected. but for the low cost of plus dollars they can fix it. of course they can fix it, they designed the virus.

you may have to resort to obscene vulgarities and demand a supervisor. they will generally hang up.

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FarneyMac 2 years ago

Fitting for a Knology reference to pop up in an article about overpriced scams...

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