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Thursday 8 December 2016

'It's a scam... you've to pay €600 to correct it' - Warning as computer con artists target Irish people over the phone

Pretend to be from 'Microsoft or Eircom'

Published 05/07/2016 | 17:27

Picture posed
Picture posed

Computer scammers pretending to be from Microsoft and Eir are targeting Irish people and luring people to install a virus which costs up to €600 to remove.

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A woman called Ann told RTÉ’s Liveline that she received “two or three calls a week” from someone pretending to be from Eircom.

“They called saying they wanted to fix my computer and when I said Eircom don’t exist anymore, it’s Eir, they hung up,” said Ann.

She told Joe Duffy that a man with a foreign accent and a 0041 number kept calling her.

“I asked where he was ringing from and he said Ireland but when I asked why is was a 0041 number he hung up again.

“My husband started getting text messages from Eircom to say our bill was running very high and to ring a number to pay it. They’re targeting our age group.

“I don’t know how they got our house and his mobile number, all claiming to be from Eircom. We got broadband in April and then these phone calls started.

“It’s strange.”

Another caller Meave Doyle told Joe Duffy that she also received calls from someone pretending to be from Eircom.

“They said there was a problem with my computer and that I had to enter something into it but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. When they rang back I told them I didn’t have a computer.

“I checked with Eir and they said they’d never contact someone by phone.

“It’s a scam, it’s a virus that goes into the computer and you’ve to pay €600 upwards to correct it.”

Meave told Joe Duffy that it was an Indian man who yelled down the phone at her and threatened to shut off her computer when she refused to comply.

“An Indian gentleman rang and said I was the owner of the computer and I said but what’s my name and he just said you’re the owner of the computer.

“He said he’s security with Eir and I said you’re not because I just contacted security at Eir. He proceeded to shout at me. He literally screamed down the phone at me saying madam I’m going to turn off your computer now so I hung up.”

Meave urged people to be aware of the scam and said it could catch older people.

“I’m aware of it but my parents' age group would be very trusting if someone challenged them.”

Eugene Quinn told RTÉ’s Liveline that he received a similar call from someone claiming they were from Microsoft.

“Straight away I thought if Microsoft wanted to engage with me they’d send me a notification through my computer,” said Eugene.

Eugene said he received the phone call early in the morning asking about his computer.

“They said to me, I believe there is a problem with your computer and I said yes and they said it’s a windows application.”

Eugene said he knew it was a scam because he didn’t have a windows computer and hung up.

“When they do ring up they ask you to install Team Viewer. He gives you a password and you can see them operating your screen. They’re able to go in then and look at the files you have and ask you for information.”

“Every time you access your computer, and they’re asking you then for money to take it off.”

“Be aware. If you’re called up and people say they’re from Microsoft or Eircom or anything like that, they’re not,” said Eugene.

Team Viewer is a software usually used in offices where IT departments can keep up with the maintenace of computers.

A spokesperson for Team Viewer says the software is "legitmate and has no risk" but that "users should be extra vigilant and should never give passwords or ID's to unsolicited people".

Eir told Independent.ie that they're aware that scams like this happen and urge customers to be vigilant.

"Never disclose any information particularly personal or financial information and delete messages immediately.

"If customers have provided personal bank account or credit card details we advise them to contact their bank immediately to advise that their details have been compromised," said Eir.

Microsoft urged customers to never give control of their computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team.

They also advised customers to report anything suspicious to the gardai and to never provide financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft. 

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