Consumer Watch: An inside look at a phone scam
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
A high tech scam is taking control of computers in the metro. These scammers are sounding more official than ever before. Anyone can become a scam victim. When a scam is good, it can be tough to tell if something is wrong, and that is exactly what high tech scammers are counting on with this one.
Imagine finding a surprising alert on your computer screen with the windows logo and a phone number. It looks official, but it is a scam, and it has been tricking more and more people across the United States.
"Once you see a screen that says your computer has been locked or your computer is infected, and only we can help, it is scary," says Elaine Dodd with the Oklahoma Bankers Association.
Fox 25 Consumer Watch teamed up with the OBA and computer expert Dave Moore to look inside this scam. We set up a computer and called the number on the screen. The next hour and a half was weird.
"There was a lot of bad information, but a lot of people wouldn't know that you are not assigned an IP address for life by the internet. Addresses on the internet change all of the time," says Moore.
The man on the other line would talk down to Moore who pretended to know nothing about computers. He pressured Moore to give up control of his computer, so the scammer could supposedly remove viruses remotely. The man on the other end of the line would not stop talking, and this attempt at overloading the listener with information is part of the scam.
"To maybe bamboozle you with their superior knowledge of the internet, and also just to wear you down," says Moore.
Then, after over an hour of remotely searching the computer, they wanted money. Hundreds of dollars to supposedly install a protection on the computer, but they wouldn't take a card. We were transferred to another person who insisted it had to be your bank information. This very thing happened just days before to ‘Mike’ Marshall.
"That concerned me because I have never had anyone ask me for a check number. Maybe a credit card, but not a check number, but I did as I was told," says Marshall.
Right after the call, she contacted Moore who told her to go to her bank right away. That it was likely a scam. Marshall managed to protect all of her assets before anything was taken. What she didn't expect was a call back.
" I felt scared, and then the audacity of him calling me the next day to ask me how I was," says Marshall, shaking her head.
After going through her computer and getting all of her personal information, the scammers wanted more. This is common with scams that target older Americans. Scammers figure if they develop relationships with their victims, they can drain them for longer. That technique works. Many older Americans are scammed out of money for years if they develop a relationship with the scammer.
If you believe this has popped up on your computer turn everything off right away, and take it to someone you trust for a repair. A company like Microsoft will never ask you to give them remote access to your computer.