A Moray family are warning of overseas-based telephone scammers who are continuing to target unwary computer users in the region.
Elgin man Stuart Leil contacted insideMoray after receiving two calls from scammers posing as technical support operators for computer software giants Microsoft.
The scammers rely on unwary computer users and the fact that the vast majority of home computers use Microsoft products – most notably one of their operating systems.
After receiving a bogus call on Monday evening Mr Leil said: “I’ve been phoned twice tonight by an Indian woman saying she’s from the windows technical support team asking to speak to the owner of the windows computer.
“The first time I just hung up – but the second time I said ‘no you can’t because this is a scam and…’ – she hung up before I could continue.
“I just thought insideMoray might want to warn everyone to be careful.”
Mr Leil is well aware of the scam with his mother having been caught out previously. On that occasion the scammer did gain access to her computer before she became suspicious – however, it was too late and the computer was unusable.
Mr Leil explained: “They get you to go onto your computer and grant remote access for them to fix a ‘fault’ – but really they plant a virus which gives them access to all your personal information.
“You know it’s a scam because windows never at any point ask for your phone number so how would they know to phone you.
“When my mother was hit by this a few years ago she ended up having to buy a new computer – they had planted a really nasty virus.
“They must have us down as an easy target or something because I phoned my mother after this attempt and she said that they had tried again with her just last week.”
Advice from the real Microsoft technical support website shows an acute awareness of the scam which has been in operation for several years.
It says: “Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.
“Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information is vulnerable.”
The company say that any such attempts are invariably scams as Microsoft would simply not be calling users of their software and do not monitor individual home computers for faults or vulnerabilities.