The feds are cracking down on a phone scam Call Kurtis exposed earlier this year. The calls are from crooks claiming your computer is infected.
They call up, telling you there’s something wrong with your computer. They even talk you into letting them have remote access.
A call with an FTC investigator was caught on tape.
Federal Trade Commission Investigator: “Umm … I see something that says warning and something that says error.”
Scammer: “Jesus! Did you say some warning?”
But this time, the scammer is talking with an investigator. The caller is trying to convince her a normal warning message that appears on her computer screen is a virus.
Scammer: “… This means that your computer is also one of those computers which has been badly infected with those online infections, OK?”
Gina Wallis got a similar call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft.
“I was on the phone with him less than five minutes,” said Gina.
The caller took over her computer remotely and started downloading her files but she quickly unplugged her router.
Now the Federal Trade Commission is taking down 14 international companies it says are behind these calls, freezing their assets here in the U.S.
“These so-called tech support scams are the latest variation of scareware schemes that trick people into paying for bogus anti-virus protection,” said Jon Leibowitz, FTC chairman.
Leibowitz says these operations, mostly based in India, claim to be affiliated with major companies like Microsoft, Dell, McAfee and Norton.
Charging fees from $49 to $450 to get rid of so-called viruses, they manage to call you from local area codes even though they’re overseas.
“They use voice over internet protocols to seem like they were calling from numbers from the consumer’s country, sometimes in the same area code,” said Leibowitz.
We don’t know who’s behind Gina’s call, but she’s glad she unplugged her router before they could have all her files.
She reported it to police and the credit bureaus.
“Because I’m not an idiot and if I would fall for this, I think anybody could fall for it,” said Gina.
The FTC says if you do get these calls, hang up and contact them and your Internet provider.
Companies such as Microsoft will never call you asking for personal information or remote access to your computer.