Scammers pose as Microsoft support techs

Callers claim virus has been detected in home PCs

Author: Mike Holfeld, Problem Solver, mholfeld@clickorlando.com
Published On: Sep 08 2012 12:17:32 AM EDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. -

Central Florida residents are being targeted by con-men claiming to be computer security technicians with Microsoft or Windows.

Lisa Mitchell, of L. Mitchell Enterprises is the latest victim to get a call from a so-called “technician.”

Mitchell says she knew her Orlando company computer was virus free because it had just been updated.

A man claiming to be from the Windows Service Center called to say he had detected a malicious virus in her computer.

Mitchell says the alleged conman called 3 times in 10 days and took offense when she asked if he was a telemarketer.

After pressing him several times he did offer a company name-- "Lets Assist."

The website appears to be legitimate, offering computer service and contact numbers in the U.S., Australia and the U.K.

A Lets Assist technician, identifying himself as Steven Walter, agreed to be recorded as we asked him how he was able to detect the malicious virus.

“Microsoft computer is designed in such a way that if anything goes wrong it sends an electronic message,” Walter said. ”That is why it gets reported and that is why we are calling you.”

But Robbie Kline of REK Computers in Orlando, says that company couldn’t be receiving any sort of electronic message.

Kline is a network administrator, the highest level in computer repair, software and virus detection. Kline says he gets calls every day from people victimized by these “scare tactics.”

He says the motive is to gain access to computers and convince consumers to pay to have the bogus virus removed. Kline says companies like Lets Assist, will guide consumers to the administrative events page as proof.

The page will show warnings and errors. But Kline said, "even a brand new computer out of the box will have those errors."

According to Microsoft spokeswoman Tara Gremillion, con games like this are showing up in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and the U.K. and “it’s unlikely to be the last.”

Gremillion says consumers fooled by these callers end up losing an average of $875 for virus removal.

You can find more information about the Phone Scams Study and Microsoft’s recommendations on how consumers can protect themselves on both the Safety and Security Center as well as the online release.

Robbie Kline can be reached at www.rekcomputers.com