OKLAHOMA – Last week, NewsChannel 4 talked to the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma to sound a warning about a new twist on an old phone scam.
Someone claiming to be with Microsoft gains access to your computer and then installs viruses you have to pay to remove them.
Victims of the scam are now coming forward.
Sonjia Henderson lost her husband in December, then lost her mother one month later.
She was emotionally vulnerable and physically ill when she got a phone call from a man saying he worked for Microsoft.
They detected her laptop was full of viruses, he said, and for $149 they would clean it and offer virus protection.
She was writing a book about her marriage and couldn’t lose all her hard work.
“He convinced me rather quickly that I needed his help,” said Henderson.
She gave him her credit card information.
“I would have never done that, had I been thinking,” she said, “but I had been sleep deprived for 72 hours and I was just very ill.”
Chris Stogsdill with “The 3 Geeks” removes viruses on computers for homes and businesses.
“Usually (the scammers) give them a cold call and say ‘…hi, I’m from Microsoft’ and they’ll say ‘your computer is infected and I can prove it’.”
Stogsdill says when the crooks show victims how to view a log of events happening on their computer, they see several “error” and “warning” messages.
But every computer has hundreds of these messages, he says, which are harmless.
“(The victims) see the evidence right there,” Stogsdill said. “They see the error messages and it looks very daunting.”
That deception convinced Henderson to allow the scammer remote access to her computer.
But instead of cleaning out viruses, the crook installed them.
Fortunately, her credit card company stopped the purchase when they saw “Gimmits Global” listed as the business name, not Microsoft.
“They’ll go to any limits to prove (they’re valid),” Henderson said. “He was very influential that first day.”
The 3 Geeks recommends getting your computer cleaned, as Henderson did, if you think you’ve fallen for this scam.
Stogsdill also recommends changing your passwords to your computer, your email, your online banking accounts and also canceling your credit cards.
Report any suspected criminal activity to police and your local Better Business Bureau.
For more information on the scam visit the Better Business Bureau’s website.