A Clonkill woman who is €450 worse off after being duped in a computer phone scam says more needs to be done to protect “vulnerable people” from international fraudsters.
The victim told the Westmeath Examiner that the fraudster, who she says spoke with “an Indian accent”, rang her landline last Thursday afternoon claiming to be a representative from computer firm Microsoft. He then got the woman to turn on her computer and “talked her through” locating what he said were viruses on her computer.
“He convinced me that the computer wasn’t registered and this was causing viruses. He showed all the errors on the computer. It was very convincing.”
After the caller convinced the woman that she would need anti-virus softwear to clean up her computer, she agreed to purchase an application for €29 and gave him her credit card details.
It was only after she talked to her son later in the day that she realised that she was the latest local victim of an international scam. To make matters worse when she contacted her credit card provider, she discovered that the fraudsters had taken €450 from her account. “It’s like they stole my card outside a supermarket. I’m not very computer friendly but I don’t know why I was taken in. We all know not to do these things but they were so convincing. “
The woman wondered if the powers that be can do something to offer more protection to vulnerable people, such as herself. “Can Eircom not do something to block these numbers? And is there nothing the government or bank can do if you say stop the transaction?”
She also urged other computer users to be vigilant: “If you see a funny number come up on your phone, don’t answer.”
Crime prevention officer, Sgt John Connolly, says a couple of Westmeath people fall victim to the scam every month, but as the criminals are abroad, there is little gardaí can do to catch them.
His advice is: “Do not get involved with someone who rings you on a cold call saying that they are from a company like Microsoft. They will take control of your computer by asking you to key in a certain sequence of numbers. Do not give your bank details and do not get involved with people who ring saying they are from computer companies.”
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