£60,000 taken from Essex victims in computer scam

Three die over the weekend on Cambridgeshire roads - police appeal for witnesses.

Three die over the weekend on Cambridgeshire roads - police appeal for witnesses. - Credit: Archant

Fraudsters have stolen more than £60,000 over the past two months in a computer virus scam that has affected hundreds of people across the county.

More than 150 people have fallen victim to the con, which involves tricksters gaining remote access to computers and removing hundreds of pounds from bank accounts.

The fraudsters contact victims by telephone, and pretend to be “computer software tech support” from big companies such as Microsoft, TalkTalk, BT and Sky.

They claim to have detected a fault on the victim’s home computer and say they can fix the fault by being given remote access control of the device.

In some cases, a file, which is claimed to be a virus checker, is downloaded and victims are charged £100 for the “work”, when actually up to £400 is removed from their bank account.

Alternatively, remote access has been used to directly infiltrate the victim’s online banking accounts and transfer funds to untraceable accounts.

Figures from Essex police show that 72 people fell victim to the scam in June, 37 being from north Essex and in July, 82 victims were recorded, with 38 from the north of the county.

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The age of the victims in the frauds ranged from the oldest at 84-years-old to the youngest at 21.

Detective inspector Lee Morton, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Unit, said: “The problem is that these crimes are not detected for weeks or months when the money taken as a fee or from bank accounts actually shows on bank statements.

“However, computer firms warn that they never make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information, or to fix your computer.

“If you receive one of these cold calls treat it with scepticism and don’t give out any personal information. The best advice is to hang up straight away.

“If you think your computer has been infiltrated, change your personal passwords and speak to your bank and ask them to change your online account passwords. If you are not sure about checking the computer and changing passwords always use a reputable firm to carry out the work.”

Anyone who has lost money to a scam like this should report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040.