Internet con artists nearly got away with it

2012-12-18 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG resident was nearly conned out of her savings by Internet fraudsters who claimed they were computer technicians working for software giant Microsoft. 

Ina Turner told The Witness she realised almost too late that she was being conned.

This is the second complaint in a week about the bogus technicians.

Dr Khomotso Kganyago, Microsoft South Africa’s chief security adviser, warned computer users not to fall for con artists.

“Don’t be fooled: Microsoft will not cold-call consumers in regard to malfunctioning PCs or viruses. In the rare instance that Microsoft might contact consumers directly, the caller will be able to verify the existence of a current customer relationship.”

Turner said: “I received a call last week from two people, a woman who sounded American and a man who sounded Chinese. They told me that my computer was corrupted with viruses and I would soon experience problems.

“My computer is new, so I ignored it.”

Again on Thursday, she said, “these people called me and I started thinking that there might be a serious problem with my computer and I started to co-operate with them”.

She gave them her IP (Internet protocol) address and they started accessing her computer from a remote site and told her to access a website called Ammyy.

“The man on the other end started to control my computer. He was moving the mouse around; he pointed to red dots on the screen and told me those were viruses and demanded an Internet transfer of R1 200 to clean the viruses.

“When he lowered it R1 000, that was when I knew that this was a con.”

Turner said she was so terrified of being fleeced that she rushed to her bank and closed all her accounts.

Another prospective victim, Julius Reed, said he was saved by his daughters. “My daughter walked in while I was busy on the phone with them [the con artists].

“She spoke to them and to my other daughter, who knows more about computers, and they told me to disconnect the phone and the computer.”

Kganyago said computer users should never authorise remote access for callers unless they can confirm that they are legitimate representatives of a computer support team with whom the user has a contract.

“If there is a fee associated with the service, hang up,” he said.

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