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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Pop-up scam continues to plague computer users 

    Pop-up scam continues to plague computer users

    By Greg Collier

    It was just a little over a week ago that we were discussing the pop-up scam that affects computer users. This is where someone is using their computer when all of a sudden their screen is overtaken by a pop-up message that states the computer they’re using has gotten a virus. Typically, these pop-ups claim to be from a large tech company, most commonly they claim to be from Microsoft. These pop-ups also contain what appears to be a customer service number that the user is supposed to call to get their computer working again.

    These phone numbers do not go to Microsoft. Instead, they go to a group of scammers who are looking to extort money from the computer user. More often than not, the user is instructed to give remote access to the phony technician. This allows the scammers to go through the personal files stored on the computer. The scammers will then come up with some reason that the computer user has to pay them money, usually through non-recoverable means like cryptocurrency.

    The reason we’re bringing up the pop-up scam so soon is that it seems to be on a meteoric rise. Just today, we found several instances of it happening across the country where victims have lost thousands of dollars. For example, a man from Lincoln, Nebraska, paid $4000 in gift cards to scammers. In the Kansas City Metro Area, two people ended up losing $30,000 total to scammers who made their victims pay through Bitcoin kiosks. In the Green Bay-area of Wisconsin, residents there lost a total of $78,000 to scammers who gained access to their victims’ bank accounts and converted the money to Bitcoin. And in the Cleveland, Ohio, suburbs, a man lost $18,000 to scammers who also had him pay at a Bitcoin ATM. Those are all the stories about this scam that we found in one day. Who knows how many others have happened without being reported?

    If anyone you don’t personally know asks for remote access to your computer, they’re almost definitely a scammer. Also, keep in mind that companies like Microsoft hardly ever reach out to consumers in that way.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Tips to detect the tech support scam 

    Tips to detect the tech support scam

    By Greg Collier

    Yesterday, we discussed how the jury duty is one of the most common and well-known scams, yet it still continues to find victims. Today’s scam is another scam like that, and it’s the tech support scam. This is where you’re using your computer and an invasive message pops up saying that your computer has been compromised.

    These pop up messages can even prevent you from closing any windows or shutting down your computer. The messages claim to be from some well-known tech company like Microsoft or McAfee and that you need to call them right now at the number they’ve provided. However, the customer service number provided is a fake, and instead leads you to scammers posing as one of these companies. Before you know it, you’ve lost thousands of dollars to a scammer for some phony service you didn’t need to begin with.

    A woman from Baltimore almost fell for one of these scams. She states that a message that appeared to come from Microsoft popped up on her husband’s Google Chromebook. This should have been a red flag that this was a scam, but not everyone knows the ins and outs of computer operating systems. If you’re using a Chromebook that runs Google’s Chrome OS, then why is Microsoft, who make Windows 10 and 11, letting you know about a problem on a competitor’s system? The same would go for an Apple Computer. Microsoft would not tell you about a problem on your iMac or MacBook.

    Getting back to the story, the woman called the number and was told to download an app that would let the phony technical support rep have remote access to her computer. This is another giant red flag. Letting anyone you don’t know personally have access to your computer is always a bad idea. This allows bad actors to go through all the personal files on your computer. Much of this information can be used in identity theft or selling your identity to identity thieves.

    The scammer then told her that there was fraudulent activity on the woman’s bank account and that she needed to move her money to avoid further fraud. She was then asked for the customer service number from the back of her debit card and that the phony rep was going to connect her to her bank and help her move the money. Of course, the bank rep was just another scammer. It wasn’t until the woman was asked to send a copy of her driver’s license when she said she felt uncomfortable and terminated the call. Luckily, she didn’t lose any money.

    If you think about it, even the pop-up messages that overtake your screen are a tip off to a scam. Real word hacks and viruses are designed to be undetected. It’s their purpose to remain as hidden as possible to collect as much information as possible or cause as much damage as possible before being detected.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Tech support scam costs victims hundreds of thousands of dollars 

    Tech support scam costs victims hundreds of thousands of dollars

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re tech-savvy, you may think to yourself, how can anyone fall for a tech support scam, especially one that involves pop-ups? In the past, pop-up windows were such a nuisance that most modern browsers come with pop-up blockers. Today, we hardly even think about pop-ups. However, if we do come across one, we largely ignore them and never go to that website ever again, as it could be providing false information or trying to inject malware into your system. Unfortunately, not everyone is that technically inclined, and those are the people that scammers are preying on. It might not be so bad if the scammers were only taking a few dollars, but these con artists are taking money from people in the six-figures.

    There’s not a lot of information on this story, but we imagine this is how it happened. A woman from Ohio saw a pop-up on her computer. It probably said that her computer had been hacked and left a phone number for her to call. The scammers posed as her bank and was told her bank account had been compromised. In order to protect the funds, she was told to give the person on the phone remote access to her computer. She was also instructed to move money from her IRA to a checking account. After it was all over, the scammers had stolen close to $300,000 from her.

    In Lincoln, Nebraska, a man fell for a similar scam. He also received a pop-up that said his bank account had been hacked and gave a number for him to call. This time, the scammer posed as a Microsoft employee. Again, the man was asked to give remote access to his computer. He was also instructed to move his money to another account, an account that scammers had access to. The man was even instructed not to discuss the matter with police. The scammers took just a little over $200,000 from him.

    Let’s just say that these two instances were committed by the same group of scammers. By just finding two people who fell for their scam, they were able to collect half a million dollars. Scammers don’t need to fool everyone, just a handful of victims.

    If you know someone who may be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know that this isn’t how their devices work. If they see a message that says they’ve been hacked, that message has definitely been sent by scammers. Also, they should never call any phone numbers attached to these pop-ups, as they’ll always connect you to a scammer. Last;y, they should never give anyone remote access to their device, unless it’s that one family member who fixes everyone’s computer.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Keeping secrets for scammers 

    Keeping secrets for scammers

    By Greg Collier

    A man from Indiana recently fell victim to a tech support scam. A pop-up appeared on his computer that said his computer had been compromised, and he needed to call Microsoft at the attached phone number. However, the phone number didn’t actually go to Microsoft. Instead, it went to a call center run by scammers posing as Microsoft technicians. They told the man his computer had been hacked. The disturbing part was that the scammers knew what bank the man used and the last four digits of his bank account. The scammers used this knowledge to convince the man that his bank account was in danger, and he needed to move his money to protect it. The man was instructed to go to his bank and wire transfer his money to a bank account set up by the scammers. In total, the man lost $79,000 to the scammers.

    To get around any suspicions the bank may have had regarding the large transfer of funds, the scammers instructed the man to tell the bank that he was starting a business with his daughter in Thailand. As more people become aware of scams, scammers will come up with lies for their victims to try to avoid detection. We have seen this ploy used in several different scams. Sometimes it’s the phony grandchild telling a grandparent not to tell the rest of the family they need bail money. Other times it can be a fake police officer threatening a victim with arrest and giving victims the lie to tell a store employee if they get suspicious about why the victim is buying so many gift cards. Often, banks, stores, and money transfer companies are aware of many of these scams and will ask probing questions to try to rescue victims from a scam. Anytime you need to make an emergency financial transaction and someone asks you to keep quiet about it, the odds are you’re being scammed.

    As far as tech support scams go, virtually no legitimate company will tell you to call them through a pop-up window. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook tend to discourage end users from trying to call them. Also, you should never call any phone number that appears on a pop-up window, as it’s almost guaranteed to lead you to a scammer. If you really feel the need to try to call the company mentioned, don’t just use the first phone number that comes up in a web search, as they can be scam numbers as well. Only use phone numbers you get directly from the source, such as a company’s official website. Lastly, you should never let anyone you don’t know to have remote access to your device.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on September 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Counterfeit Cash, Timeshares, and more 

    Getting scammed after being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    Here we are bringing you another handful of scams that you should be aware of.

    ***

    We start off with a scam out of the state of Delaware. A restaurant in the state’s capital, Dover, received a call from someone posing as the U.S. Marshals Service. The caller told an employee that they received complaints that the restaurant had been giving out counterfeit money as change. The caller also said that they would be at the restaurant in 30 minutes to ‘inspect the cash’. The employee was even threatened by the caller, stating they were currently watching the restaurant. The employee called the actual police instead. We’re not sure what the endgame of this scam was, but keep in mind that law enforcement will never call you to tell you what they’re investigating.

    ***

    In the state of New York, the Attorney General’s office is having to deal with scam letters that were sent out posing as the AG’s office. The letters indicate that the recipient is entitled to money due to a debt settled over the sale of timeshares. The NY Division of Consumer Protection has come out to let the public know that these letters are fraudulent, even though they contain the state seal. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say that the scammers were probably trying to get New York residents to pay a ‘service fee’ to get their supposed pay out. This is known as the advance fee scam. If you get a letter like this and have doubts to its authenticity, call the agency at a phone number on their website and not one that’s on the letter.

    ***

    Police in Grand Island, Nebraska, are warning residents about a number of complaints they’ve received about scammers posing as employees of Apple. The scammers are telling residents that there has been suspicious activity on their Apple accounts and that they need to remotely access your computer to resolve the problem. As you can guess, once scammers have access to your computer, they can take all the information from it, including your banking info if you use your computer for that. Monolithic companies like Apple will never call you to tell you there’s a problem. The same goes for Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. If you can’t even call some of these companies, they’re not going to call you. Anyone who asks you for remote access to your computer is almost always going to be a scammer.

    ***

    While these scams might not be happening to you now, they could in the future. Hopefully, you’re now prepared to recognize them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    When scammers come back for more 

    When scammers come back for more

    By Greg Collier

    There are many truths when it comes to scammers. For this particular story, we’re going to be focusing on two. The first is that scammers tend to target the elderly when it comes to many scams. The scammers feel that elderly individuals are not tech-savvy enough to see through many of their scams. That and the fact that many seniors live alone and don’t have anyone in their home to warn them that whatever it is, it might be a scam. The second truth is that once someone has fallen victim to a scam, there’s a good chance the scammers will try to victimize them again.

    Recently, a man from Upstate New York, had fallen victim to an elder scam. The report doesn’t say which scam he fell for, but if we had to hazard a guess, it was probably the grandparent scam, or maybe the tech support scam. Either way, the man almost assuredly lost a substantial amount of money. Then he received another phone call. This mystery caller said he knew who initially scammed the man. All the man had to do was pay the caller $6000 and the caller would hand over the information. As they say, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The man contacted local police, who arranged a meeting with the caller and arrested him. Again, while the report doesn’t go into further detail, it’s a safe bet that this man allegedly had something to do with the initial scam.

    There is no shame in admitting you’ve been a victim of a scam. It happens to almost everybody at one time or another. They can range for paying someone $20 to cut your lawn, and they never come back, or it can result in major financial loss. Either way, if you do lose money in a scam, it will help others if you come forward to police. This way, police can be on the lookout for the scam and arrest any possible con artists.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam 

    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam

    By Greg Collier

    You hate to see the phrases ‘scam’ and ‘life savings’ used in the same sentence. Unfortunately, that is a harsh reality in today’s internet-connected world. Scammers and con artists will try to take as much money from you in the quickest way possible. One of the quickest ways to do this is to gain remote access to someone’s computer. In most cases, in order to gain remote access to someone’s computer, the computer’s owner needs to give that person permission. That’s where today’s scam comes in.

    A man from the Chicago-area lost his life savings to scammers after he allowed them to gain access to his computer. The man used a certain brand of antivirus software that he pays a subscription fee for. The scammers called him up posing as the antivirus software company. They told the man that due to the pandemic they can no longer serve him and would like to give him a $500 refund. The scammers deposited thousands of dollars into the man’s bank account and then said that this was a mistake. In order to correct the mistake, they needed remote access to the man’s computer. That’s when the scammers were able to empty his bank account and his home equity line of credit to the tune of $200,000.

    No commercial software company is going to call you up offering you a refund. Even if there was some kind of billing discrepancy, the software company would more than likely reach out by email. Even then, we wouldn’t recommend clicking on any links in the email. Also, it should almost go without saying that you should never allow someone you don’t know to have remote access to any of your devices. If you do, they can access just about any online account that you’ve used on that computer. Lastly, you don’t really need to pay for antivirus software anymore. While you may have had to back in the Windows XP days, Windows 10 has a built-in security feature known as Windows Security that is just as good as any paid software.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on April 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Streaming devices are vulnerable to scam 

    Streaming devices are vulnerable to scam

    By Greg Collier

    In case you’re not familiar with Roku TV, it’s a device or service that comes with your TV that allows you to access multiple streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and the like. There are other brands of streaming devices, but Roku is the most popular one with consumers. And like most internet-connected devices, they are vulnerable to attacks and scams. Recently, there seems to be a string of attacks happening to new device owners that is costing them a lot of money. It’s known as the activation scam.

    One victim who spoke to the media said she was setting up her Roku device when a message flashed on her TV screen. It told her to call a customer service number to help with the activation. The woman called the number and the person who was supposedly helping her with the activation sold her a year’s service plan for close to $200. A short time later, the customer service agent called back demanding more money or her service would be shut off. It was at this point the victim realized she had been scammed.

    If you buy a Roku or any other streaming device, there is no monthly fees to use these devices. Instead, you pay to whatever streaming service you want to subscribe to. Roku does not offer a service plan. You can elect to buy a program like that at the point of purchase like Walmart or Best Buy.

    So, how does a scam like this happen on a streaming box? From everything we’ve researched it happens when the user goes to a phony activation website. Anybody can make a website that says ‘Roku Activation Help’. That’s when the phony customer service or activation number comes up. In the user guide to most streaming boxes it will give you the authentic website to use for help and activation. If you just do a web search for activation you could be led to a scam site that could cost you time and money.

     
  • Geebo 9:19 am on March 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , icloud, , , tech support scam   

    Victim loses $15,000 in iCloud scam 

    By Greg Collier

    iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that it supplies to its users for free up to 5 GB of storage. If you’re not an Apple or iOS user, iCloud is akin to Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive, or Dropbox. A few years ago, iCloud made the headlines when a number of celebrities had the contents of their iCloud accounts leaked to the internet. So, in theory, iCloud accounts can be hacked. Scammers know this and use this fear as a way to trick their victims who may not be that technically savvy as one woman in Missouri recently discovered.

    The 86-year-old woman was expecting an important call from her daughter when she answered her phone. The person on the other line claimed that the woman’s iCloud account had been hacked along with 42 other iCloud users. The scammer then told the woman that she would need to buy gift cards in order to protect her data. Since the woman used iCloud frequently she complied. She ended up buying 29 $500 gift cards for Walmart. When store clerks asked her what all the gift cards were for, she was instructed by the scammers to tell the clerks that the cards were for her grandchildren. The scammers told her that she would be reimbursed, but instead she was out $14,500.

    Tech support scams and their variants have been around since the dawn of the internet and continue to find victims. However, these scams are easy to thwart. All you need to keep in mind is that none of the big tech companies are ever going to call you out of the blue. That includes Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the like. The best way to keep your personal storage accounts safe is to use a password that is difficult to guess. Password managers are a great tool to assist you with this. It also helps if you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Again, this is where a password manager comes in handy.

    However, if someone calls you out of the blue to tell you that your account has been hacked or your computer has a virus, hang up on them. The tech companies will never call you and no one can remotely tell if you have a virus on your computer.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Tech support scam leads to home security breach 

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach

    A woman from Tennessee not only lost thousands of dollars to a tech support scam, but she also had her privacy violated by a group of scammers.

    It started when she received an email from what she thought was her antivirus provider. The email claimed that they would be automatically charging her $299 for a year’s service. The woman called the customer service number included in the email and the person on the other line said they would refund her money. She was then instructed to download an app to her computer that would aid in her receiving her refund.

    The program she downloaded was actually a remote access program. This gave the scammers control of her computer. The woman input the amount of $300 for the refund, but the scammers added two more zeros to the amount making the phony refund look like the woman would be receiving $30,000.

    The scammers convinced the woman that they just paid her $30,000 to her bank account and that she needs to return it. She was told that the only way the money could be paid back was through wire transfer. The scammers even printed out documentation she would need for her bank on her own printer since they had control of her computer. They even had the woman leave her computer on all night while they did scans claiming they had to make sure the money went through.

    In the morning the woman’s bank account was down $50,000. When she called the scammers back still thinking they were customer service, they told her that the transfer didn’t go through, and they needed $10,000 in gift cards instead.

    Then the woman noticed that the light on her computer’s webcam was lit without her turning it on. This indicated that she was being watched by the scammers. She covered up the cam but her home security cameras were also connected to her computer, so she disconnected those cameras as well.

    Before all was said and done, the woman was out $37,000 to the scammers and her privacy had been essentially violated.

    The first way a scam like this can be avoided is to not use an antivirus software. While that may seem risky, Windows 10 has a pretty robust antivirus solution built into it, and it’s free. Secondly, if you receive an email like this, and you think there may actually be a problem with your account, don’t use the phone number in the email. Instead, go directly to the company’s website and look for a phone number there. Lastly, no legitimate company is going to ask for money through wire transfer or gift cards. Scammers do this because the money is virtually untraceable once they receive it that way.

     
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