August 26, 2013 - 12:58 PM
KELOWNA – At least four Kelowna residents are out hundreds of dollars, duped into fixing a computer virus they never had.
In just the past few days police received multiple reports of cold calls targetting local landlines in what is known as the “Microsoft scam.” At a cost of $150 to over $300 the cold caller convinces the user to give them remote access to their computer so they can find where the alleged virus has infected their system.
Posing as a representative from well known software companies, like Microsoft, the caller convinces the user their computer to purchase an anti-virus program.
RCMP spokesperson Kris Clark says the callers in question are using aggressive tactics, calling the same landline multiple times. One victim of the scam says they were on the phone for over an hour with the caller as they walked them through the downloading process.
In some cases the user is actually downloading harmful software.
“Typically the software is useless, it may be a really cheap version of an antivirus but in a lot of cases it's some kind of malware or spyware that will dig into your computer and get personal information,” Clark says.
Callers claiming to represent large computer companies are highly suspect, Clark says, it's very unlikely a company like Microsoft would actually contact their customers to help them with a virus.
"A virus on your computer, are they really concerned about that? Unless it's affecting them and there's millions of units out there to take down their company, they're not going to be concerned about one computer," Clark says. In response to the scam, Microsoft has issued about a warning on their website to alert customers.
For now, there's little police can do to investigate, given that the callers usually operate from outside the country.
“You've given permission, a service has been rendered – you paid for it,” Clark says, regardless of it's legitimacy.
Police are urging those who have fallen victim to the scam and permitted remote access to their computer, to take their system to a service centre, ensuring it can still be used securely.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013