COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — While checking her email, a Columbus woman, who wants to remain anonymous, saw a message claiming to be from Microsoft pop up on her computer screen, alerting her to a potential “threat.”
That message contained a phone number to contact “Windows Support.”
“You call the number, they said, the gentleman said that he was from Microsoft,” said the woman.
She also said the man told her she had been hacked, her personal information was compromised and that money would begin to disappear from her bank account. To put it back, he told her she needed to buy gift cards.
“I mean, Macy’s, Lowe’s, gosh, Target … all kinds.”
Each one worth hundreds of dollars. And she said the man wanted her to give him the numbers on the back of each card, giving him access to a grand total of $8,500.
But after a few days of silence, and no activity in her bank account, she knew she had been scammed.
“I mean, I’m on a fixed income,” said the woman.
She said she called Better Call 4 because she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. Better Call 4 then turned to cybersecurity expert Mike Moran, with Affiliated Resource Group, to find out where the message came from.
“It looks very legitimate,” said Moran. But, he added, it’s likely old-school malware meant to scare you.
“When you see that, your first natural reaction is to get all, ‘Oh my God!’ Pause. Think through,” said Moran.
And look carefully at your screen for an “X” in the right corner.
“Click on the ‘X’ to close the window,” said Moran.
Then, reboot your computer to see if it operates normally.
You should also change your passwords and take your computer to a local repair shop.
“They might charge you $100 to go through and check it and run the spyware,” said Moran. “That’s not a bad thing to think about when you’re concerned with something like this.”
The woman said she informed her bank of what happened and filed a police report but was told from both agencies that nothing could be done.