As part of a four year long international investigation into computer software service fraud, two call centres have been raided in Kolkata, India, which are thought to be responsible for targeting thousands of victims in the UK and the US.
Seven people were arrested for suspected involvement and computers were seized. With over 2,000 cases being reported to Action Fraud every month, this is one of the most common type of online scam. These scams can involve someone calling and claiming to be from Microsoft or a person’s anti-virus software provider to inform them there is something wrong with their computer. Other times the caller pretends to be from a bank or credit card provider that has noticed suspicious activity on the account.
The criminals use a range of techniques, often designed to pray on victims’ fears, with the intention of gaining remote access to their computer for financial gain. One victim had £4000 stolen after seeing a pop-up ad and signing up to a fraudulent computer security protection company. He then received a call from them claiming that he had been hacked and told him to transfer the money to resolve the issue.
To avoid being scammed, police advise people to always confirm the identity of any callers claiming to be from Microsoft or another service provider. The number displayed on your phone may have spoofed so do not assume it is the real number of the caller. Independently look up a genuine number yourself and call the company back; legitimate companies will encourage you do this if you are unsure of their validity.
Never call numbers that appear on pop-up messages claiming there is a problem with your computer. Be wary of cold callers claiming to be from Microsoft and offering technical support, as the company state they will never do this. As scam callers often pose as Microsoft employees, the tech giant even helped fund the computer software service fraud investigation.