Police warn of computer scam

A DRAMATIC increase in reports of a Microsoft scam targeting Queenslanders has sparked a police warning.

The scam involves a victim receiving a phone call from a person purporting to represent a well-known computer company (most commonly Microsoft, or a company contracted by Microsoft) telling the person they have a problem with their computer.

The caller outlines the victim’s computer is infected with a virus that has been brought to the company’s attention – often via the Microsoft fault reporting process – then offers to assist the victim and will “fix the problem” by directing them to a website where the caller remotely takes over the victim’s computer.

The representative then shows the victim the “issues” with their computer and suggests they pay a fee to have the problem fixed or need to purchase software to prevent this from happening in the future.

“This is all just a scam. Microsoft has confirmed they are not cold-calling members of the community regarding viruses, computer problems or any other issue.

“Quite simply, these offenders are just looking to trick you into giving them money,” Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the State Crime Operations Command’s Fraud and Corporate Crime Group said.

“Giving someone you don’t know remote access to your computer is basically the same as handing your credit card details over to them.

“ With this access, an offender can easily search your computer for banking or personal details or quite easily load Malware or Trojan software onto your computer. You may as well give them the key to your front door while you’re there.

“If someone calls you with an offer like this, hang up the phone immediately. These days it is important you do your research before handing over credit card details to anyone who contacts you by email or phone.

“If they are a legitimate company, they will have measures in place to help you verify they are genuine.”

This week the Fraud and Corporate Crime Group will host the 2010 National Identity Crime Symposium in Brisbane. Speakers from law enforcement agencies, commercial ventures and industry stakeholders will join together to discuss issues including identity theft, social networking, law enforcement response and preventative strategies.

Anyone wishing to find out more information about fraud prevention, should visit the Queensland Police Service website at www.police.qld.gov.au.

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