A phone scam that targets victims under the guise of a computer repair service only to gain remote access to a computer, personal information and then money itself has brought about warnings from local law enforcement.
A caller, in this case named “Mark” representing himself as being from Techline Connect, sells the caller on a computer repair service, gaining remote entry to the victim’s computer. He has them pay $215 for the service, gaining bank account information and then removing funds from those accounts.
After 7-10 days, the scammer will call the victim back and tell them they were unable to complete the repairs and will give them a refund for the $215. The victim then goes online to the setup site to retrieve their $215 refund at which time the scammer tells the victim they have entered the wrong amount and now owe the company money.
The company will show a deposit in the victim’s account for a $2,000 refund.
“It’s the account they create online for the victim. It shows a refund, but it’s fictitious,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith, who received a report of the scam from a local resident, who noted he wanted to make the scam known to the public “in attempt to stop further loss of money from victims.”
The scammer will advise the victim to go to Wal-Mart so they can send a money gram to a location in China for the difference. Once the money is wired, it is moved to an overseas account and the banks are unable to return the money, the resident stated.
“Our investigators are investigating this scam currently and we would like to make the public aware so that others don’t fall victim to this scam,” Smith stated.
The Federal Trade Commission warns of scam artists using the phone to try to break into computers. They call, claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies, saying they’ve detected viruses or other malware on computers to trick the owner into giving them remote access or paying for software they don’t need.
“These scammers take advantage of your reasonable concerns about viruses and other threats. They know that computer users have heard time and again that it’s important to install security software. But the purpose behind their elaborate scheme isn’t to protect your computer; it’s to make money,” the FTC states on its website.
If you get a call
According to the FTC, if receiving a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company on a phone number known to be genuine. Other tips to remember:
• Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
• Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they are not even in the same country as you.
• Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
• Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.
Information included from the Federal Trade Commission. Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.