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Computer scam popular in area

A Microsoft or Windows computer scam has affected several people in the area, according to Terry Easterly of the Computer Center.

The scam involves a phone call from a person claiming to be with Microsoft or Windows. They tell the victim that there has been an alert that their computer has a problem. The victim is then told to download something to allow the scammers to control their computer. From there they show them benign error messages as proof that there is a problem. Then they offer to fix the supposed problem for a fee of up to $500.

Easterly said he has seen many people claiming to have been victims of this scam.

“I would say in a week we tend to have about five or six people coming in telling us they have been told about this problem,” Easterly said “In a month, we might have as many as 60 or more cases. It’s becoming a growing problem in our area, and people need to be aware that this is a scam.”

Easterly said they have been telling people who have fallen victim to the scam to call their credit card company to ask that the payment be refunded. He said that credit cards companies are generally familiar with these scams and may be able to help.

Easterly assures computer users that Microsoft would not call them and would not know if their users were encountering a problem without the user contacting them first.

Victims described to Easterly that the voice on the phone during the scam had a foreign accent. One person said they became hostile when they were correctly identified as a scam by the victim.

Easterly said he didn’t know the origin of the calls, and he didn’t know of any pattern to the victims.

“I would guess that they are dialing random numbers, but people who don’t know as much about computers are the ones who tend to fall victim to this scam the most,” Easterly said. “Those who know more about computers are realizing that this is probably not legitimate, so they are giving them access to their computer. Once they get their money, they still have access to their computer and can do anything they want from there including sending emails as the computer owner and more.”