Thousands of people across the Country are falling victim to a scam where people will pose as Microsoft tech support employees when in reality they are working to scam people out of their money.
"I really felt stupid at the time for falling for such a thing," a scam victim named Harriett from Clarksville said.
For Harriett, it all started when she received an email, supposedly from Microsoft, saying that her computer was infected. The "representative" left a phone number that she could call for tech support.
"They were telling me different things that were going wrong with my computer and how they could help me," Harriett said.
People all around the United States have received similar emails or been given the same warning through websites and popups telling them that their computer is infected and they can get help for a couple hundred dollars.
"They knew all the moves," Harriett said, adding that they got access to her computer and showed her numerous applications that were infected, leading her to want to act.
Harriett paid about $200 and was told that everything was fixed on her computer, but then the scammers came back for more.
"They called me and said the Better Business Bureau said that they were going to have to close down because their computers were infected," Harriett said, adding that the company said they planned to pay back all of the money to the people who were impacted by their infection, which included Harriett.
The representative called at a later time when Harriett thought everything was finished, and they informed her that they accidently deposited $1999.99 instead of $199.99 in her account. They even showed her the mistake by again taking control of her computer and showing her a page that was fabricated to make it look like the money had been deposited.
At that point, the got Harriett to go to the store, buy gift cards for $1800 to make up the difference, and read off the numbers to the representative. She later found out after speaking to her bank that there was never an initial deposit of $1999.99 into her account, and that she was probably scammed. That's when she contacted the Better Business Bureau.
"These types of payments, generally, you can't get your money back, and scammers know that," Brandi Zaccardi, Senior Vice President at BBB of Middle Tennessee, said, adding that people should use caution when paying for services using gift cards.
Instead of accepting help from someone reaching out to you, the BBB suggests that if you suspect there is a problem with any electronics you own, or any other item, that you go to a known vendor for help to avoid falling victim to a scam.
"Out of every one consumer report that we receive, there's approximately 50 more consumers that we have not heard from," Zaccardi said.
The BBB also explained that these scams are so well formulated because many of the people who are working the scams are trained by companies as actual tech support people, specifically in India.
After learning the skills as a tech support representative for a company, some of those employees will leave and use their expertise to scam people in convincing ways.
If you believe you've fallen victim to a scam, you're asked to report the scam to the Better Business Bureau.