Hitchin and Stevenage residents targeted in Hertfordshire-wide computer scam
12:36 08 August 2014
Five people from the Hitchin and Stevenage area have been targeted in a computer scam which is being repeated across Hertfordshire.
• Remember computer firms will not make unsolicted calls or send emails requesting personal or financial information or offering to fix people’s computers.
• All unexpected calls and emails should be treated with suspicion – hang up the phone or delete the email if you are unsure.
• Never reveal your personal or financial details in these circumstances or allow remote access to your computer.
• If you do need to contact the company for assistance or assurance, use details found on your contract or another trusted source.
Officers are warning the public to be vigilant following 40 incidents in the county since June which in nine cases has resulted in money being handed over.
The scam involves a person ringing the victim claiming they are from a computer company such as Microsoft.
The caller then tells the victim that there is a problem with their computer – such as a virus – and goes on to say they can fix the problem for a fee.
Alternatively, the scammers will persuade the person on the phone to grant them remote access to their computers.
This enables them to control the computer from anywhere in the world, and located personal files and data such as bank account details. It also allows the offender to place viruses on the machine, which they can charge the victim to remove.
Three people in Hitchin are among those to be targeted by the scam.
In one incident, a man in his 60s was called by someone claiming to be from ‘PC Fixed’. Remote access was given to the caller after the victim was convinced that the computer was infected by a virus. A fee was asked for but the victim cancelled his cards before any payments were taken.
A woman in her 60s was also targeted and was advised there were problems with the computer and these could be fixed for a fee. Although she gave the caller remote access to her computer, she refused to pay the caller.
A man in his 70s was spoken to as well but identified it as a scam and ended the call.
In Breachwood Green, near Hitchin, a man in his mid-50s was phoned several times by someone claiming that there were issues with his computer. He refused to allow the caller remote access and ended the call.
There has also been one case in Stevenage, when a man was spoken to by someone claiming to be from Microsoft. The man was suspicious of the call and did not allow them to access his computer remotely.
Det Insp Danny Lawrence, who leads the ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit which tackles organised crime across the eastern region, said: “While it is of concern that this type of scam has been successful in a number of cases, most people are recognising the call for what it is and we have been working with Microsoft’s security team and Action Fraud in order to tackle this scam.
“As can be seen, it isn’t a particular group of people targeted by the offenders: people of all ages have been contacted and it is possible a large number of people have not reported being called.”
Anyone who believes they may have been targeted by this scam or has information should contact police on non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.