- Published on Friday, 20 July 2012 14:10
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Federal and local authorities warn residents to be vigilant of Suspicious Phone Calls
Anybody who has a computer connected to the Internet is vulnerable to be infected with a computer virus. However, the risk of having a computer virus is low as long as one has anti-virus software that is current, but the rudimentary computer virus is nothing compared to a new more subtle but, according to Jeff Fritz, who works in the Verizon Fraud Control Department, “is a severe problem,” and this widespread cybercrime begins with a simple phone call.
A scam making the rounds now, including in King George County, involves receiving a phone call from an “unknown number.” The caller identifies him or herself as working for “Microsoft Windows,” and states that your computer has been sending signals to Microsoft allegedly alerting the company that there is a major security problem with your computer. The caller is very friendly and sounds very knowledgeable about computers and uses terminology that is very convincing. The caller asks the victim to launch the ‘Run’ command and enter a series of keystrokes which bring up windows that show what appear to be warning icons. The caller continues to gain the victim’s trust by asking them what they see on the screen. Once the victim responds, the caller says to the victim that this is a serious problem—however, this is misinformation that is disguised as evidence that something is seriously wrong with your computer. After a few more instructions to enter keystrokes that bring up more windows, that to the non-expert would appear as alarming, the caller then says that it is imperative to log onto the website www.logmein123.com. The scammer then provides a numerical code to enter into a field on the site and upon clicking submit, the scammer immediately takes over the victim computer and locks the user out. At this point, any information on the computer, including bank account information, passwords to e-mail accounts and social networking sites, as well as any other personal information is at the scammer’s disposal. At this point, the unassuming computer user is likely a victim of identity theft.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the company LogMeIn, Inc., which is based out of Woburn, Massachusetts, is a legitimate enterprise with a “B” rating. Tim Patterson, an employee of LogMeIn, said that the company is aware of the scam and that its remote control services have been used to infiltrate defenseless, unknowing victims. Patterson said that anybody who is targeted or believes to be a target should report the incident to LogMeIn.
“We are tracking these cases,” he said. He added that if you’re given a code for the logemein123.com site and inform the company, it will trace, locate and ban the user from its site.
King George County Sheriff Steve Dempsey said that he is aware of this scam and that it has been reported in the county.
“Microsoft will not call you and ask you any questions,” he said. He added that everyone should be skeptical of any phone calls that request information or that elicit access to people’s computers. His advice was to just hang up the phone.
Dempsey said that it was not a crime to call and lie about who these people are and direct computer owners to follow directions they are given, however, once the scammer gains access to a person’s computer it becomes a crime and the severity of the crime increases to computer trespassing and the charges and penalties increase depending upon what information is compromised and how it is used.
Lindsay Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the FBI said, “As with all scams, we ask that citizens remain educated and aware.”
She added, “If individuals have reservations about any phone calls or emails they receive, we ask that they report such suspicious activity to the internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.
Goodwin stressed that resources are available through the FBI.