News Local

Computer scam has cost B.C. victims more than $42,000 this year

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A computer phone scam plaguing much of the country has cost victims in B.C. $42,730 to date this year, a figure officials suspect is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Daniel Williams, a supervisor at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, estimated only between 1% and 5% of victims report they've been scammed. Many are embarrassed after losing money, or simply don't know they've been tricked.

To date, just 173 victims have come forward in the province this year.

The scam involves a caller claiming to work for Microsoft or a computer services company telling potential victims they have a virus.

Scammers will tell their targets to download a program, which allows the con artist to seize control of the computer, before charging money to "fix" the problem.

"The volume of this is just ridiculous," Williams told 24 hours. "Now they're hitting people they've already victimized one or two years ago."

Williams asks those who've been scammed to call authorities and report the suspects' phone numbers and the payment method of any transactions made.

Last year, $65,709 was reported scammed from British Columbians out of a nationwide figure of more than $453,000.