Police warning over computer scam where offenders pretend to be from Microsoft

The offender calls pretending to be from Microsoft
The offender calls pretending to be from Microsoft

Herts Police is urging the public not to be duped by a new computer scam that is being used to steal money across the county.

In the scam, a person rings the victim and states they are from a computer company such as Microsoft. The offenders have been using a number of different tactics in an effort to steal money from victims.

Some calls see the offenders explain that there is a problem with the victim’s computer, for example that it has a virus, and go on to say they can fix the problem for a fee.

In other instances the offenders persuade the victims to grant them remote access to their computers. This is where a person can control the computer from anywhere in the world, allowing them access to personal files and data, including bank account details. It also allows them to place viruses on the machine, which they then charge the victim to remove and can cause irreversible damage.

Since the beginning of June, 40 scams were reported to the Hertfordshire Constabulary. Nine of the incidents have resulted in people having money stolen.

Detective Inspector Danny Lawrence, who leads the ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit, said that although most people are recognising the call for what it is, they are working hard with Microsoft and Action Fraud teams to tackle the scam.

He said: ““As can be seen, it isn’t a particular group of people targeted by the offenders: people of all ages have been contacted and it is possible a large number of people have not reported being called, so I would urge people to remember and share the following advice:

“Computer firms, like Microsoft, do not make unsolicited phone calls and do not send unsolicited emails, requesting personal or financial information or offering to fix people’s computers.

“All unexpected calls and emails should be treated with suspicion and if you receive such correspondence you should hang up or delete the email. Never reveal your personal or financial details in these circumstances. Never allow anyone to remotely access your computer as they could access your personal data and files and cause damage to your machine.

“If you do need to contact the company for assistance or assurance, remember to contact them directly by using the details found on your contract or another trusted source.”

Anyone who believes they may have been targeted by the scam or has information in relation to these incidents should contact Hertfordshire Constabulary via the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively you can report the scam to Action Fraud

The police’s Cyber Crime Unit was established in 2010 to ‘deliver an increased response to tackling the threat of organised crime across the six forces in the Eastern Region of the United Kingdom and to provide specialist covert policing capability to law enforcement’.