Kentuckians lose $92k from computer virus scam

Published: May. 1, 2019 at 12:13 PM EDT
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Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning Kentuckians about a computer virus scam that took money from multiple people.

In the last two months, Beshear's office got complaints from people in Daviess, Fayette, Franklin, Jefferson and Johnson Counties.

The victims of this scam lost a total of more than $92,000. One person alone lost $89,000 of that total.

The scam happens when a victim uses their computer and a pop-up window appears. The window says there is a virus on the computer and you must call a 1-800 number. If you call the number, the scammer pretends to help while collecting computer login information so they can steal personal and financial information.

“These scammers won’t clean your hard drive, but they will clean out your bank account,” said Beshear. “Just as we wouldn’t give a stranger a key to our homes, Kentuckians should never give a stranger access to their personal computers.”

Another similar scam involves a scammer posing as a Microsoft technician. The "technician" calls to help with computer issues, but then instructs you to buy Google Play cards to pay for the help. One victim lost $2,900 this way.

Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these kinds of scams:

- If you suspect your computer is infected with a virus or malware, update your security software and operating system or visit a company you know and trust for assistance.

- Don’t call a phone number or click on a link from a pop-up message or unfamiliar email.

- According to the official Microsoft website, Microsoft error and warning messages never include phone numbers.

- Don’t trust numbers even if they display a legitimate tech support business name or phone number.

- Never give a caller remote access to your computer or personal device.

- Never buy gift cards to provide payment to “tech support” callers.

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