‘Tech support’ scam hits Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) ­– A typical Wednesday night took a strange twist for Cynthia Taylor.

“I got a phone call on the landline,” she told 8News. “Someone told me the computer was being compromised.”

Coincidentally, Taylor happened to be online when the phone rang. She began recording the phone conversation when she became suspicious of a scam.

In the recording an unidentified caller can be heard saying, “Your computer is sending warning messages. If your computer starts sending warning messages that means something is going wrong in your computer. So, who uses the computer in your home? Like, you’re the only one who uses the computer?”

The caller then tried to find out her operating system.

“They wanted me to hit a particular key on the computer but I didn’t do that,” explained Taylor.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, with tech support scams like the one Taylor reported to 8News, fraudsters use your phone to try to break into your computer. They call, claiming to be computer techs from well-known companies like Microsoft. They say they found viruses on your computer, to trick you into giving them access or paying for software you don’t need.

Taylor’s godson, André Walters, happens to work in fraud prevention.

“They always use words such as ‘the event viewer’ in your computer,” said Walters. “They use different forms, and tell you you’re in extreme danger or that someone can take all of your personal information.”

But the purpose behind their elaborate scheme is not to protect your computer; it’s to make money.

“Had I given them what they needed, they could’ve taken over my computer entirely,” Taylor said.

According to the Better Business Bureau, there were 13 similar incidents reported in Virginia between June 28 and October 28. Ten of those reports were filed in September and October.

A word of advice: if you get a call from someone claiming to be with tech support, hang up and call the company yourself. A caller who seems urgent or uses high-pressure tactics is probably a scam artist.

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