Monday, January 20, 2014

Public Advisory from Winnipeg Police Service- Computer/advance payment scam

Winnipeg Police Service

 Monday, January 20, 2014

The Winnipeg Police Service and the Commercial Crime Unit in particular, have been receiving numerous phone calls from members of the public regarding a scam in which callers purport to be calling on behalf of Microsoft or another legitimate company.  

The scam involves the caller, usually from outside of Manitoba, making the potential victim believe that their computer is infected with a virus or is sending out error messages.  The caller then offers to run a scan of the computer if the potential victim allows him/her to gain remote access to their computers.   

If access is allowed, they will then pretend to run a scan and report that your computer is infected.  The caller will then try to convince you to purchase anti-virus software right away to remove the infection.  The fee may be a one-time payment or an on-going subscription.  While they are accessing the computer they can infect it with a virus and or install a key logger which will allow them to log each key stroke that the user makes thereby gaining access to usernames and passwords as well as other sensitive personal and or business information stored on the computer.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, the Winnipeg Police Service advises the following:

- Avoid the scam by hanging up on the caller.
- If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone about your computer system’s security status, hang up.
- NEVER give a stranger remote access to your computer.
- Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you have made the call to a trusted source.
- Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall - but only purchase the software from a source that you know and trust. 

If you think you have provided your account details to a “scammer” contact your bank or financial institution immediately.  If you have allowed remote access to your computer, take the computer to a local computer forensic outlet and have it examined professionally.

Recently, a victim received a computer virus scam call at which time remote access was provided. It is believed that the suspect(s) obtained personal information about the victim, specifically her timeshare. Shortly thereafter, the victim received an unsolicited call from a potential buyer regarding her timeshare. An agreement was made to sell the timeshare resulting in the victim providing additional personal information, including proceeds to transfer money to the suspects in order to complete the transaction.    

If members of the public have been contacted in this manner but have not victimized, we ask them to notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

If anyone has been victimized financially, they are asked to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and make a report to police.

For further information on scams, please click on the following link: