FBI Warns Of Scam Posing As Microsoft Workers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Thieves have found another way to steal your money, and investigators with the FBI said if you're not computer savvy, you just might fall for this scam.

Deborah Davis Riggs doesn't usually take calls from people she doesn't know.

"The guy said he was from Microsoft, which kind of caught our ear," she recalled.  

Riggs said she regrets that decision.

"He started saying, 'Ya'll have been hacked,' and that really got us scared, cause I thought, 'He knows what he's talking about,'" Riggs shared with NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

When the caller with the foreign accent said he needed to get into their computer, Riggs didn't hesitate. He gave her directions over the phone and with just a few quick clicks, he was in.

"Cause if you think it's Microsoft, you think it's a reputable thing," Riggs explained.

The problem was, the person calling was not from Microsoft.

"Microsoft will never ever call you and ask for remote access to your computer," cautioned the FBI's Scott Augenbaum.

The longtime Special Agent said more and more people are falling for the so-called tech support scam. What's important to remember, he added, is that when you let one of these scammers into your computer, you're giving them total access to everything on it, including your banking and investment information and more.

"You allow these people to get into your computer, and when they're on the computer, they're going to pull up a screen that has a lot of red x's. It's meaningless and they're going to say, 'Look, there's a virus,'" Augenbaum told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

That's exactly what the caller told Riggs, before telling her, he could get rid of it for a thousand dollars.

"My husband said, 'We're not paying any money at all,' and so he said, 'Well, then you'll just be locked out of your computer.' And at that point, the computer got locked up and we could not get it back on. It shut down completely," Riggs recalled.

While the scammer got to Riggs through her phone, the FBI warns that has not been the only way these scammers get to their victims.

"If you are on your computer and a screen pops us and says you have a virus, please call the 1-800 number to remove the virus, that is also a scam, and you should power down your computer and bring it to professional because that means your computer was infected with the virus and now they're tricking you into you making the telephone call," Augenbaum warned.

Riggs wasn't sure what the scammer did to her computer, but a week later, it still wasn't working.

"I thought at first he was trying to help us, and I'm sure anybody that gets that call. If they're not aware of this, they would think the same thing," she said.

Riggs did the right thing after she realized she was scammed. She contacted her bank, changed her passwords and asked the bank to monitor her accounts for any suspicious activity.

The FBI said if this happens to you, you should report it immediately. You can do it on their website at www.ic3.gov.

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