Rockingham County, NC-- The sheriff's office is investigating a possible scheme after receiving several complaints from residents. Fraudsters say they represent Microsoft Windows and they need money to remove a virus.
The caller claims the potential victim's computer is infected with a virus. The caller tells the resident several hundreds dollars are needed to remove the virus.
The Rockingham County sheriff's office told News 2 it is receiving reports of the exact scheme multiple times a day.
The BBB of Central NC told News 2 it first heard about the scheme in the Triad about five months ago. The BBB says the scheme doesn't stop after a victim doles out hundreds of dollars.
The fraudsters also try to obtain remote access to people's computers. From there, they poke around looking for personal information through e-mails, banking, and other online accounts.
"If somebody does send the money and also turn over access to their computer, they could be in line for more losses down the road. It's important to note that people from Microsoft aren't going to contact people on the telephone to tell them that there is a problem with their computer," said Kevin Hinterberger, the President/CEO of BBB Central NC.
A spokesperson with Microsoft Windows sent this statement:
Cybercriminals have been using a range of common scamming tactics using the Microsoft name for years, including sending people unsolicited email messages with attached security updates or calling people to request personal or financial information to fix the person's computer. Since receiving reports about these scams in 2010, Microsoft has made an effort to clarify that these emails and cold calls are a scam and that Microsoft will never contact a consumer and ask for their credit card number to charge them for a service they don't need. Examples include a site detailing the issue and a blog providing guidance to inquiring or victimized consumers. In addition, Microsoft released a study looking into the breadth that these phone scams have in English speaking countries. Meanwhile, the FTC also has information about these scams; you can find this information here.
The BBB of Central NC told News 2 the scheme started circulating in the Northeast. Here's more information from the BBB: BBB Warns of Microsoft Phone Scam
WFMY News 2, Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, BBB of Central NC