Bob Dougherty, who has been a customer of Response Computer Group for several years, says that when he received a call a few weeks ago from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, he believed that they were attempting to help him, even though the callers had thick foreign accents. He says that they claimed reports had been sent from his computer indicating there were viruses.
“They told me if I let them access my computer, they could clear the viruses,” Mr. Dougherty said. “This was on Friday. The man accessed my computer…gave me a security code and told me that if anyone else called claiming it was them, I should make the new caller give me that code because there were a lot of scammers out there.” Mr. Doughtery said that he paid $500 for the service.
On Monday, Mr. Doughtery said that a second man called claiming to be from Microsoft, also with a thick accent. Mr. Dougherty asked for the security code, which the man provided. The caller explained that they had overcharged him for the virus removal as he had signed up for protection a few years ago and that there was a guarantee. Mr. Doughtery said that he could not remember signing up for such a service, but thought he may have done so unknowingly.
“They asked me to go online and check my bank account to be sure the $500 was refunded,” Mr. Dougherty said. “I signed in and noticed that I did not have a deposit for $500 but for $2,500. I told the guy that he had refunded too much money. The man acted surprised and asked me if I would refund the overpayment. I said of course, I’ll mail a check, but the man insisted I needed to do it before the end of the day or he would get fired. I told him I was sorry about his luck, but I would not transfer the money directly from my account.”
When it was clear that Mr. Doughtery would not send the money back electronically, the caller looked up his location and found that there was a Western Union location at Walmart and asked if he would go there and do a wire transfer. Mr. Dougherty agreed, simply to get the man off the phone, but said he had no intention of sending money Western Union and intended to mail a check. In order to send money through Western Union, the caller provided him an address in China for the transfer. After hanging up the phone, something did not feel right to him, so he called the Delaware State Police who agreed to send a trooper to his home to file a report.
While waiting for the trooper to arrive, Mr. Doughtery said he received another call from the company. “He said ‘I thought you were on the way to Walmart,’” Mr. Dougherty said. “I said I would later, but I had some things to do. The man was agitated, insisting I needed to do this as soon as possible before his boss found out about his error. While I was on the phone, the doorbell rang and I told the man I had to go. It was the trooper.”
The trooper took the information from Mr. Doughterty and said that it was possible he was caught up in a money laundering scheme. She told him he needed to take the computer to a professional to have it completely cleaned because the callers more than likely put trackers where they could not only see everything I did, but take over whenever they wanted. She also told him to go to his bank and close all his accounts so that they could not access them again. Mr. Doughtery said he immediately took his computer to Response Computer Group for cleaning and closed his bank accounts.
“I was thinking that at least I got an extra $2,000 for my aggravation, since I didn’t have to send them any money back,” Mr. Doughtery said. “While I was at the bank, they checked all my accounts and I learned that the $2,500 was a cash advance on my own credit card, They had gained access to my credit card, transferred money from my account into my own checking account, so I really didn’t get any money back.” He said the bank worked with him by crediting the charge back to his credit card and blocking any payments to the scammers.
Mr. Doughtery said that he wanted to tell his story in order to keep others from falling victim to the scam. He took his computer to Response Computer Group (RCG) in Milford and the business completely cleaned all remnants of the software installed that was used to scam him. RCG told him that scammers may try to create a pre-login password so the user will be unable to access the PC or try to delete user data if the user did not provide a credit card number.
“We cannot emphasize enough, hang up on cold calls claiming your PC has problems, they are not legitimate,” said Bryan Eshelman of Response Computer Group.
If individuals have been the victim of an internet scam or want to be sure their computer is free of malware, Response Computer Group has a cleanup and tune-up service for PC or laptop for a flat rate of $100. For more detailed information, individuals are encourage to contact them at 302-725-3314.
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