A new scam is reaching eastern Idahoans through the Web. This time the scammers are so invasive, they can access your computer remotely and even shut it down from thousands of miles away.
Computer hackers target owners of Windows-based, non-Apple computers. A representative will call a computer user claiming to be from a fictional Microsoft help desk called "Microsoft Certified."
Microsoft Certified does not exist.
"Basically from the time these guys call up and say hello, everything after that is a lie," said Idaho Falls computer consultant Monte McCall.
McCall said he's received several phone calls from clients complaining about the scam. He said the representative on the phone will ask the target of the scam to download a file. Once downloaded, it allows the hacker total remote access to the computer.
Then the representative walks the scam target through steps identifying a series of errors on the machine. McCall said all of the so-called errors are common diagnostic messages the hackers use to convince computer users they have a virus.
"Your computer's gotten in touch with us, and it's been sending us messages that you're infected with a virus," said McCall, as he gave an example of what the hackers will say on a call.
The fake customer service reps have been calling many eastern Idaho numbers lately. They direct a computer user to open a program called Error Log that lists internal errors on Microsoft computers.
"Those error messages -- even a brand new machine gets those," said McCall. "They're nothing to worry about, (but) they use those errors to say, 'Oh these are viruses.'"
Then comes the sales pitch.
"Their final goal is to turn you over to a senior technician they call it, and then he comes in and takes over and sells you a software package of anti-virus and everything for $250 bucks a year," said McCall.
McCall said the scammers get vicious if you get suspicious.
"After I got to the senior tech I told them, 'I know what you guys are saying is all lies.' He immediately went into my system, the virtual machine, and tried to disable it from starting up again, by deleting certain files it needs to boot up," said McCall.
McCall said the anti-virus package the scammers are trying to sell is Microsoft freeware available for no payment online.
The Better Business Bureau knows about the scam. They request anyone who is contacted by the scammers to report it by calling 342-4649.