'Microsoft' repair phone scam back again

YAVAPAI COUNTY -- Last year, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office received complaints about an ongoing scam involving fraud suspects representing themselves as "Microsoft" technical support employees. The scammers convince their "customers" to spend several hundred dollars as part of the fraud. In recent weeks, YCSO has taken new complaints regarding this scam.

The current phone scam uses a trick of a fake antivirus software scam circulating the Internet, also known as "scareware," which tricks users by displaying a fake virus attack. Microsoft officials warn that a live phone version of the scam involves suspects who call and impersonate help desk engineers from legitimate software companies on their behalf. The scammers pretend to warn users their PCs could be infected with mal-ware and offer a free security check. The suspects will "cold call" their victims and create a sense of urgency that a computer fix is critical.

In reality, the scammers trick victims into allowing them to remotely access the user's computer and download mal-ware. The scammers then ask for a credit card payment from the user to continue the "repair," which usually involves downloading fake security software to delete the mal-ware the scammer just installed. Remember, in most cases the scammers can see your personal data also.

This scam has mainly affected seniors and those new to computing who believe they are speaking to a Microsoft representative. Some calls can last hours and will always involve payment for "services." Most of the suspects in this scam are located overseas even though caller ID information may display common U.S. phone numbers. See http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/msname.aspx for more details from Microsoft.

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