PC scam still going strong in S Canty
A computer scam that's made more than a few rounds through New Zealand in recent years is still going strong in South Canterbury, local technology professionals say.
The scammers, known as the PC virus cold callers, tell an unsuspecting target that his or her computer is infected with a virus and ask to be given remote access to the machine to fix the problem. When the scammers have taken over control of the computer, they demand money.
The scam usually began with a call from someone purporting to be from ''Windows'' or a Microsoft-affiliated company, Computer Shop Timaru 2000 Manager Tim Small said.
The scammer often directs the resident to look at the computers event log and claims it contains evidence that the machine is infected.
''In the event log you get a whole lot of crosses and things, which is quite normal,'' he said. ''But they convince people these are major errors.''
The scammer would usually talk with the resident for several minutes before asking to be given payment or information to set up remote access to the machine, he said.
''It's quite calculated,'' he said. ''From the very minute you answer the phone they use words like 'Windows' that people recognise ... They don't initially ask for control. They build trust.''
M Tech Computers owner Aaron May said there was usually a delay after answering the telephone and an audible click when a scammer's call connected. That was because the scammers, based overseas, were using a service to make cheap international calls via the Internet.
Both Mr May and Mr Small said they had personally received several such calls and had heard from many people in South Canterbury who had had the experience.
At this point, Mr May said, the PC virus cold callers had become a familiar nuisance, and residents could have a bit of fun at their expense.
''If you tell them you don't own a computer, that really throws them,'' he laughed.
But for anyone who's realised the scam too late and has already given out access to their computer, the best thing to do is simply turn the machine off and have it checked out by a professional.
- © Fairfax NZ News