We often get contacted about scammers calling individuals claiming to be from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple. They appear to target the young (under 24 years old) and the older crowd (older than 50) specifically. Unfortunately we are usually contacted after the individual has been scammed. So the conversation usually goes like this… Scammer claims to be from X Company. They inform the victim that they are calling because their computer is infected and X Company is making phone calls to resolve the problem with their customers. At this point if the victim is showing signs of trust they will suggest they give them remote access so that they can clean their computer up. They will usually follow this up with comments like their computer is infected with X infection and all their personal and financial information is being stolen. This will strike fear into the victim and make them more likely to agree to the service. Once they are granted remote access, the scammer then loads a bunch of Java Applets onto the computer to “show” the individual how infected they are. Its important to understand that these infections are imaginary and it is the scammers that are actually infecting the computer. Once the victim sees this and the scammer is convinced they have you, they will tell you that they offer a service to remove all the infections and then throw out a price between $300-$500 dollars.
As soon as the victim agrees to pay them, this is where the scammer will switch gears. There are a few ways this can go. We will detail these below so that you know what to look out for…
Method 1. Scammer will request that you pay via Credit Card and that you provide a digital signature on a PDF Document that agrees to the service and acknowledges that you must pay them X amount for it. They will do this because with this signature many people won’t try to fight the charge with their credit card company. Just so you know, if you have fallen for this scam, you can still call your credit card company and report is as a fraudulent charge and you should!
Method 2. They will request a bank transfer. The catch here is that they will not ask for a wire transfer. Instead they will tell you they can accept a debit card as well to make it easier for you to pay. This is where they trick you, the debit card allows them to withdrawal funds from your checking or savings account. So once you provide this information they will usually take out more than the agreed upon amount. We have had a dozen clients contact us this year alone to report that they were victims of this specific method and the scammers took out between 1500-2500 dollars.
Method 3. They will explain that they can accept many forms of payment. They will usually allow you to choose how you wish to pay, regardless of which method you choose they will charge you the wrong amount, then offer a refund and then explain that you must go down to Walgreens, Walmart, CVS or some other store that allows the purchase of Gift Cards or MONEY GRAM. If you do this there is no way for you to get the money back. This method is also more widely known so its less successful and the scammers know this so its usually only done with the elderly or if all other methods fail as a last resort.
After you make payment, many of these scammers will then infect your computer with a Trojan in order to be able to gain access in the future. After they do this, they will often follow up with how you are now protected against hackers and that your computer is no longer compromised. Often times they will use legitimate well recognized programs in order to disguise what they are doing as well as disarm their victims suspicion.
So now that you know about this, stay safe out there. Remember Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple as well as any other well known company in the tech field DO NOT CALL CUSTOMERS OFFERING VIRUS REMOVAL SERVICES. THEY ALSO DO NOT CALL CUSTOMERS TO VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT WITH THEM. This is the 2nd type of scam being used, but we will talk about this in a future posting.
If you have been a victim of this type of scam, you SHOULD have your computer looked at to make sure there are no infections. We also recommend that if you use your machine for financial services you should change your passwords as soon as you realize what has happened. For best practice you should also use a brand new password that you have not used elsewhere before.
Stay safe & as always if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us. 😀