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Elderly and disabled targeted in PC scam

Published date: 06 February 2013 |
Published by: Helen Davies
Read more articles by Helen Davies


 

A PENSIONER and a disabled man are among those who have been targeted by an abundance of scam phone calls.

One 66-year-old woman from Denbigh has this week spoken of her horror at discovering she had been conned by a caller claiming to be from Microsoft.

A Free Press investigation has since revealed residents from across the region are being plagued by such calls to their home on a daily basis.

“I had a phone call and they told me there was a fault with my computer,” said the resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

“I couldn’t understand what they were saying so I asked them to call back later when my granddaughter was in.

“They asked her to give them the password details for my computer and she did.”

The caller then logged into the computer began moving the mouse around the screen from their location.

“It showed up a lot of error messages on the screen and they said if I didn’t get it fixed the computer would crash and be no good,” said the worried woman.

“I’m not very computer literate so I believed them, they were talking jargon I didn’t understand.”

When she asked how much it would cost to fix the computer, the pensioner was told it would be £100.

“I said it was too expensive but he said if I didn’t pay my computer wouldn’t work anymore,” she said.

“Then I said I didn’t give card details over the phone and hung up.”

The persistent caller rang back again when the pensioner hung up for a second time.

She then called her broadband provider who told her it was a scam.

After speaking of her frightening experience to her sister-in-law, the woman discovered she had also received a similar call.

The Free Press asked our readers if they had been affected by the scam and received reports of repeated calls from abroad following this pattern.

Jayne Jones from Cerrigydrudion was conned into paying the money two years ago and still receives the calls on a regular basis.

“I am still getting them and a disabled man here in Cerrig is getting them and he hasn't got a computer and we have told them this a few times,” she said.

“I would advise people to put the phone down straight away, mind I had one lady putting the phone down on me as I spoke to her in Welsh.”

Free Press reader Michelle Jones gets rid of the caller by telling them she has no computer but said “I know of someone who gave out their bank details and lost money to them”.

Debbie Williams from Denbigh tried a similar method when she was called this week: “They were shocked when I said I had no computer and hung up,” she said.

Kayleigh Griffiths from Denbigh has calls from the fraudsters on a daily basis.

“They are very persistent and persuading,” she said. “It’s quite easy to believe them as well.”

Computer experts in the county are warning residents that Microsoft will never call people at home unless requested by the householder.

It seems the scam has been ongoing for the last few years, with Microsoft saying back in 2011 that a similar fraud operation was being carried out across the UK.

“These calls seem to come in waves of a about every three months or so,” said Rory McGough from Denbigh-based CATalyst Systems.

“One chap in Denbigh last year got stung for £220. These people prey on the elderly and those that are not IT savvy.”

Tom Strapps, from Ruthin-based Tengo Media, said: “Microsoft themselves will never phone someone up to take control of their machine, so you should never give anyone access to your PC over the phone in this way.

“Once they are in, they could do a number of harmful things including obtaining personal details, or accessing any websites that you've logged into. If you have let them in already, you need to get your machine cleared of viruses and malware by a PC repair specialist.”

Sue Harding from CITS in Denbigh said she had also been told about the scam by worried customers.

“We’ve had two people in the shop who have paid money, one was over Christmas,” she said.

“We had another gentleman in the shop this week who’d been targeted.”

A spokeswoman for Denbighshire County Council’s Trading Standards department said: “We would urge people to be vigilant when receiving unanticipated demands for payment and be sure to treat any demand from a company with whom you have never dealt with as suspicious.

“They may not always be what they appear.”

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