Con artists hijacking B.C. computers and wallets 0
A "viral" nation-wide computer scam named last year as the No. 1 con in the Lower Mainland has made a resurgence locally, officials warn, as a Richmond resident suffers the consequences of an attempted dupe.
Dylan Spooner was surfing the net Friday afternoon when his computer mysteriously shut down. The 16-year-old turned it back on and saw a message that his computer's files were corrupted.
To his surprise, the fix seemed to seek him out - in the form of a man dialing his home half an hour later, claiming to work for Microsoft.
"They guided me step-by-step on the phone through a few processes. They had me download an application which allowed them to take control of the computer," Spooner said.
"It seemed fairly legitimate due to the fact I just had a shutdown . but when they asked for money (between $100 to $400), I started being hesitant."
Unbeknownst to the teen at the time, this particular con was ranked top scam in 2011 by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Vancouver Police Department and the Better Business Bureau's Lower Mainland section.
CAFC noted, in September last year, 70 to 80% of frauds reported daily to them were about this scam ever since the calls were first detected in March 2010.
Port Coquitlam resident Theresa So was also contacted by a similar suspected scam last week, but she'd seen the reports and warnings on television, and told the caller to go away.
"He addressed me by my name. I was very scared. I was thinking if he keeps on calling I would report it to the police," the woman, in her 60s, said.
"He said, 'You have a virus and I wanted to fix it.' How come there's free lunch? There's nothing like that. People have to be very careful about it."
Last month, the BBB issued a public warning and said they've traced many of the calls to an India-based company after investigating its resurgence in 2012.
"It reappeared, roughly, in June. (It) has been pretty consistent for us, where we do get a handful of phone calls per week," BBB spokesman Mark Fernandes said Tuesday. "We're getting most of our calls from Metro Vancouver."
Both So and Spooner said the man who called had a southeast-Asian accent. Luckily, in the teen's case, he held on to his money and escaped with only a sense of embarrassment and a computer virus.
The youth hasn't dared connect his computer back to the Internet yet, for fear it would be hijacked again, but said he won't be so easily fooled next time.