Police issue warning as computer scam does the rounds

THE Queensland Police Service has issued a warning to Queensland residents about a scam targeting computer users.

The scam involves people taking a call from a person claiming to be working at a foreign call centre, known as The Windows Service Centre or similar.

The offender claims to belong to a software support company asked by Microsoft to fix problems on the victim's computer, and informs the victim their PC is infected with viruses and needs to be fixed urgently or it will be destroyed.

The offender will then direct the victim through a process on their computer that gives the offender remote access to the computer to download viruses or gain access to personal information.

Once the offender has gained access, they will then give or sell the victim software in order to prevent this problem in the future.

The victim, instead of downloading anti-virus software, may be installing a virus on their computer which can be used to gather credit card and identity data, police warn.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, of the State Crime Operations Command Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, said the scam was just another example of offenders preying on the vulnerabilities of victims.

"In reality, there is nothing wrong with their computer but the scammer has tricked the consumer into believing there is a problem and that paying the fee is the best way to get it fixed," he said.

"Microsoft is not cold-calling consumers in regards to malfunctioning PCs, viruses or any other matter, nor have they engaged other entities on their behalf.

"We have seen this scam work, as the victim may let down their guard when told by the offender they have specific knowledge of error messages on their system.

"This gives the victim confidence in the caller, which in turn opens the door to fraud," Det Supt Hay said. 

"Giving someone you don't know remote access to your computer is basically the same as handing your credit card details over to them."

"If someone calls you with an offer like this, hang up the phone immediately."

Members of the community are reminded to never reveal personal or financial information to any person who "cold calls" them on the phone.

Police said it had become apparent that some of the targeted victims of this scam had previously engaged in a phone survey some weeks earlier.

The survey sought no personal information, but did query information regarding the householder's computer equipment.