‘Tech support scams’ cost Prince George’s Co. victims almost $300k this year alone

It isn’t a new scam, but it is still costing victims in one D.C. area hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Prince George’s County Police Department said so far this year, 13 people have come forward to say they fell victim to “tech support scams.”

The scammers have taken some $287,000 from victims, Prince George’s County police said.

The scam, which targets individuals with limited computer knowledge, starts with a website pop-up message that tells a victim that their computer may have a virus or another problem. The message then tells the victim to click a link or call a phone number for a “tech support agent.”

Once connected, the person on the other end pretends to be a tech support agent, talks the victim in taking the necessary steps to allow them to remotely connect to the computer. The scammer then works to convince the victims that their bank accounts have been compromised, too.

Another person posing as a bank official is connected to the call, and the scammers work to steal the victim’s money by transferring it into cryptocurrency, buying gift cards or starting a wire transfer.

The average age of the victims is 69 years old, police said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, once into your computer, these scammers not only have access to personal information saved on it, but they may also add malware, which monitors your use and the information you enter.

Also, the scheme may also involve trying to get you to pay for a phony warranty program or software. They may also ask for credit card info to pay for tech help or direct you to websites that will ask for your financial information.

The FTC said these two things will help you avoid a tech support scam:

  1. Legitimate tech companies won’t contact you by phone, email, or text message to tell you there’s a problem with your computer.
  2. Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number or click on a link.

Prince George’s County police asks anyone who believes they’re a victim of one of these scams to call the police department 301-516-1464.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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