Thursday, October 02, 2014

Police: Don't open window to Microsoft phone scam

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 8/1/2014

WELLSVILLE — The window to a new scam apparently has been opened in Franklin County.

A telephone scam nearly cost a Wellsivlle man about $200 after a caller duped him last month into turning over his credit card information on the ruse of malfunctioning computer software.

“A Wellsville resident received a call from someone identifying himself as being from Microsoft,” John Blair, Wellsville police chief, said. “So he went along with it and apparently the gentleman told him that his computer was throwing out error codes and that they needed to go in and fix his computer. So he went along with it for a little while, and gave him remote access and they got in and said there was some malware problems and that they could sell him a program for $199. So he still thought it may be legit, so he cooperated and then he got to thinking after he completed talking with the gentleman that it might not be legitimate.”

As it turned out, the malware fix the man posing as a Microsoft representative was selling was available free online, Blair said. The Wellsville man immediately contacted his credit card company and canceled charges, he said

“He ran a web check on this phone number — (209) 753-4599 — and it came up with all sorts of people writing in and saying they have been getting calls from this number, which is attempting to run what they think is a scam on them and trying to get money out of them and get remote access to their computer,” Blair said. “[The number] is registered to a California address. According to some on this list, it may be a voice-over IP number and they possibly could be calling from another country. If you do not recognize the number or the company, I would not give away any credit card information.”

It was the first reported instance of the scam in Wellsville, Blair said, warning residents to take extra precaution in ensuring a company or company representative is legitimate before giving any information over the phone. Blair also urged people to contact local authorities if they suspect a scam.

“It may not be a bad idea to let us know,” he said. “Because it is possibly overseas, there is not much we could do except write up a report on it, and if their credit card is charged, they will probably have to make a report to present to their credit card company.”

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