Protect yourself and your family from computer scams and online fraud

Four years ago, my son gave me the scare of my personal finance life – he fell victim to a computer scam. Lucky for all of us, he did not have access to a credit card and the scammers only wanted money, not identities.

Phishing scams are here to stay and, unfortunately, a friend just fell victim to one.

Here’s the article that ran in the Toronto Star:

We were almost victims of an online fraudphishing

We narrowly escaped being the victim of an online telephone scam, mainly because my teenage son doesn’t have a credit card.

We narrowly escaped being the victim of a telephone scam, mainly because my 15-year-old son doesn’t have a credit card.

But a situation that might have turned out badly ended well and has become a valuable lesson and one that will hopefully help others.

The phone rang while my son worked on the computer Monday night. The caller identified himself as a Windows 7 service provider and said he was calling to warn about  viruses running rampant on our computer.

 My son was home alone, took the caller at face value and proceeded to follow his commands. He logged into www.logmein123.com a legitimate remote control technical support site that, in this instance, was being misused for criminal purposes.

By logging into that site and entering in the six-digit-code given by the caller, the scammer had full access to our computer. Unbeknownst to my son, he installed malicious software so he could pretend to fix all the “viruses.”

  According to Computeractive, a site offering advice to computer users, users are duped into installing convincing-looking software that allegedly fixes manufactures ‘problems’ in order to extract payment for equally fictitious fixes.” At the end of the demonstration, he told my son that unless he paid for the anti-virus software, the computer would crash. This was the lucky part as my son has no access to a credit card.

He called me at work, oblivious to the con and told me the caller said we needed better anti-virus software. My biggest fear was that they had skimmed our financial data and stolen our identities.

I called the number left by the scammers.  The person on the other end was unintelligible, but eventually spelled  what he said was his company’s name:  K2onlinecare. I ended the call  so I could investigate. The phone number originated in New Jersey.  I called back and another man answered. I identified myself as a Toronto Star employee and asked if he minded if I recorded the call. There was a moment of silence and he hung up. Today there is an answering machine. With a little searching I found that the website for K2onlinecare was registered on Aug. 8, 2011 which, according to its Facebook profile, is run by Kavish Online Services in India.

 The Guardian wrote a story about a similar scam starting in 2008, and lo and behold, my guy started in 2008. But instead of being based in Kolkata, my guy is based in Durgapur.

 We contacted Windows 7 help desk and were transferred to the fraud and security section. The technicians told my son where to check to see if any malware was lurking on the hard-drive. They also explained that this was an old-time scam in which the scammer wanted money, not our identities. What a relief.

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