Scammers cost woman $1000

By Amy McGillivray

11 comments
Craig Computers owner Mike Craig is often asked to fix computers after scammers have locked the owners out. Photo / John Borren
Craig Computers owner Mike Craig is often asked to fix computers after scammers have locked the owners out. Photo / John Borren

A Papamoa woman found herself sucked in by a con-artist claiming to be from Microsoft despite fending off dozens of phone calls from scammers in the past few months.

And the mistake has cost her $1000 and "a lot of trauma".

The 73-year-old woman, who was still shaken by the incident and spoke on condition she was not to be named, was convinced her Microsoft computer licence had expired and agreed to pay almost $300 for it to be renewed last Monday.

"We've resisted the calls for several months sometimes several a night, certainly several a week. Unfortunately one last week I got hooked into and I sat in front of my computer and let the person in," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"I argued with them for almost three hours."

The man claimed hackers could get into her computer and carry out illegal activities, such as the distribution or pornography, in her name.

The caller then locked the woman out of her computer even though she had agreed to pay.

Luckily her bank caught on to what was happening and stopped the transaction.

"The next morning the bank rang me and asked me if I had been speaking to somebody overseas who wanted some money. They said straight away it was a phone scam and they hadn't actually got money out of my account, but I had to shut down my credit card."

A computer technician was able to get into the computer, restore her files and rid it of any viruses at a cost of about $1000.

"It was frightening. To be honest I felt guilty and stupid. I made a mistake. It's cost us money. It's cost us a lot of trauma. It's been a week from hell really."

Papamoa police Sergeant Phil Gillbanks said he had heard from a few people targeted by the same scam in the past couple of weeks.

"The calls are made from an unknown overseas location. Do not allow these people access to your computer. Do not pay any money," he said.

Mr Gillbanks had also received reports of another computer scam in which the computer's inbuilt camera was used to take a photo of the user which then appeared on a web page which popped up informing them they were breaking the law and had a police fine to pay.

Craig Computers owner Mike Craig said he often had people come to him after they had been locked out of their computer by such scams.

Mr Craig estimated he fixed about one computer every three weeks that had been targeted by scammers. He also received two to four calls for advice from customers who had suspicious sounding callers offering computer advice each week.

"A lot of people are starting to ask the questions which is good," he said.

"If any one rings up and says there's something wrong with your computer, it's a scam. Microsoft won't ring up and say there's something wrong with your computer."

Budget Mobiles and Computers store manager Aamir Hussein said three or four customers had come to him after being locked out of their computer by a scammer.

Most of the time the hard drive needed to be re-formated, which often meant people lost all their personal data, he said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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