SHELBY COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) – Scammers claiming to be from Microsoft are targeting Shelby County residents, prosecutors said Tuesday.
According to Shelby County State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke, the scam targets a person when an alert appears on their home computer saying there is a problem with the device, such as a virus. A phone number is provided to call for assistance.
Scammers then pretend to be Microsoft employees and say they will fix the issue for a fee. They request remote access to the victim’s computer. Once they’ve gained it, they manipulate the computer so it appears there is a problem, then claim to repair the issues.
The scammers ask for payment in the form of a prepaid debit card or a gift card. They then come up with more reasons for additional funds to be sent, which Kroncke said are often coupled with promises to refund prior payments once additional funds are received.
Payments can’t be recovered after they are made by a debit or gift card.
“We have seen victims, particularly the elderly, lose hundreds, thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to this and similar scams,” Kroncke said. “These scammers are good at what they do and can be very convincing. Since they typically operate outside of the United States, arrest and prosecution is rarely possible. Individuals who are targeted by this or similar scams are advised to refrain from providing information and to report the incident to law enforcement so that citizens may be alerted to the nature of the ongoing scam.”
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