A Luton man has been convicted of unfair trading by using a scam technique to sell people computer software that was available for free. Mohammed Khalid Jamil received a four month suspended prison sentence, a £5000 fine and was ordered to pay £5665 compensation to his victims and £13,929 in legal costs.
Jamil is believed to be the first person convicted of operating the "Microsoft Scam" in the UK.
What is the Microsoft Scam?
There are a couple of variations on the Microsoft scam, but they all operate in virtually the same way:
- A person, you, receives a random call from someone claiming to represent Microsoft.
- You will then be told that as part of their routing monitoring, a problem has been detected on your computer, placing your data at risk of loss or theft.
- They will then talk you through checking some settings on your computer which they claim prove that something is wrong.
- You will then be asked to download and install an application so that the scammer can control your computer remotely,
Once the scammer has gained control of your computer, they can then perform all manner of activities including:
- Downloading and installing spyware that will steal personal information, like bank account details.
- Steal personal data directly, claiming they need the files for "analysis".
- Charge you to install free security software, as was the case in Mr Jamil's version of the scam.
How to know if you are being scammed
Because there are common factors involved in the various Microsoft scams, there are some things to look out for:
- Microsoft will never, ever call you about a security problem with your home or work computers - they simply cannot access that information.
- Calls almost always come from a call centre abroad - in Mr Jamil's case, India.
- The caller will always ask you to download and install some software that will allow them to "fix the problem remotely".
Scam callers are always quite pushy, and will try and fluster you into doing as they say. By talking urgently, they will try and convince you that the "problem" is extremely serious and needs to be dealt with immediately.
What to do if you are targeted by a scammer
If you think you receive a call that you think is suspicious, the easiest solution is to simply hang up immediately. Remember that Microsoft cannot tell if your computer has problems or not. Do not under any circumstances carry out their instructions.
Instead you should contact Get Support for further advice. Our team of trained and trusted technical consultants will be able to help you confirm whether your computer really does have a problem. Get Support customers should also be aware that as part of their support agreement, our daily proactive monitoring services will often identify issues, allowing us to fix them long before you become aware of a problem.
If you are in any doubt at all about the security of your computer or have received a call claiming to be from Microsoft, give us a call now on 01865 594000.