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BBB alerts Oklahoma residents of 'Microsoft' tech support scam

Fraudulent telemarketers, claiming they’re with Microsoft, are telling consumers their computers are infected by viruses, which they can remove — for a fee.
by Paula Burkes Modified: August 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: August 16, 2014
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Swindlers posing as computer experts and using the Microsoft name have been calling Oklahomans, claiming they can remove bugs from the Oklahomans’ virus-infected computers — for a fee.

Kitt Letcher, president of the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma, said her agency began receiving reports of the scam early this month, and has fielded at least two complaints a day for the past two weeks.

If consumers balk, scammers ask for access to their computers so they can show them the offending items — typically harmless files found on most computers, Letcher said. If the consumers bite on the pitch, the callers request credit card information or direct consumers to their PayPal accounts or other electronic payment methods, she said.

“While they’re on the computer with you, they actually can put a virus on your computer that will extort all your information,” Letcher said. One victim, she said, watched as her computer files were deleted one after another.

“The scammer told her she had to pay $179 to get them back,” she said.

‘We have your email’

A former co-owner of a florist shop, Sonjia Henderson, of Rush Springs, said she was caught off-guard by the call because hours earlier she had been discharged from the hospital and had gone days without sleep.

She said the caller, who had a Middle Eastern accent and said he was with Microsoft security, told her, “I noticed your mother’s security has been violated, and I’m here to help you take care of it.”

Henderson had lost her mother that month and her husband, who typically handled their computer affairs, the month prior.

She asked for the caller’s employee I.D. and to talk with his supervisor, who he said was tied up. “Ma’am, you’ve already lost one-third of your hardware,” he said.

Henderson said she panicked, fearing she’d lose sermons and photographs of her husband, who was a minister, as well as a book she’s writing about their life together.

She gave the caller her Visa account number, and when he told her the card didn’t go through, she gave him her American Express information.

Henderson then turned her computer off, took a four-hour nap and awoke with a clear mind, she said. She called both credit card companies. Visa didn’t accept the charge from “Gimitts Global” and American Express hadn’t yet processed it.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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To report telephone scams

Call the consumer center of the Federal Communications Commission at (888) 225-5322 or go to www.fcc.gov/complaints.

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