Steve Gibson had a peculiar situation with his Dell computer.
“It’s Windows XP and that is not supported by Microsoft anymore, so that’s when I started getting error messages that your PC’s outdated, you need to update,” says Gibson.
Gibson couldn’t even get to his online banking. Messages kept popping up so he called the 1-800 number they gave him and told the guy he’d buy a new computer.
“He convinced me that I did not have a PC issue, that I had a network issue and that even if I went and bought a new PC I was still going to have the same issues.”
The man from Microsoft was really a scam artist. Gibson paid the scammer $650 for what he called malware protection. Not long after, they said his PC was in trouble again and they needed $1100 to fix the problem. That’s when he called us.
“What happened is he went somewhere on the internet and he’s gotten malware,” says Detective Laura Soulier with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
That malware is now causing the error message to pop up. And these scammers will say anything to make you think they are who they say they are.
“And they know how legitimate businesses normally work. I’m going to give you a reference number, I’m going to give you some kind of a case number,” says Soulier.
And the unfortunate mistake Gibson made was paying them the first time.
“They think you’re an easy mark, they’re going to come back and they’re going to try for more,” says Soulier.
“You just can’t trust people on the phone, if you can’t see them in person, you can’t trust them cause you just don’t know who you’re talking to,” says Gibson.
Soulier says the scammers likely have downloaded software that tracks Gibson’s keystrokes, catching all his passwords…and this could escalate into ransomware where the scammers take over his computer entirely if he doesn’t pay. The best thing for Gibson to do is to destroy this computer and get a new one.