More than 20 victims fell for 'Microsoft' tech support scam

More than 20 people have fallen victim to scammers that pretended to be from tech companies' helpdesks.
More than 20 people have fallen victim to scammers that pretended to be from tech companies' helpdesks.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Since January, the police have received more than 20 reports of unauthorised charges to people's credit cards as a result of online scams.

Victims provided their credit or debit card information to buy software for fake virus infection on their computers, the police revealed in a statement to the media on Sunday (June 4).

First, users would see a pop-up message on their computer screens suggesting that their computers had been infected with a virus, or their passwords and information might have been leaked.

They were then given a toll-free telephone number they could use to call "Microsoft" to resolve the issue.

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Those who made the call ended up speaking to operators who claimed they were employed by Wetechconsultants, Microsoft or Apple.

The victims were asked to download an application from a website (such as www.remote.me, www.anydesk.com, or www.fastsupport.com), or enter commands on their computers. This gave the scammers remote access to and control over their computers.

The scammers also told the victims that they had to purchase "anti-virus software" to fix the computer, asking for personal particulars - such as their NRIC number - and credit or debit card details.

This allowed the scammers to make unauthorised transactions using these credit or debit card details.

In some cases, the victims revealed their e-mail passwords to the scammers, enabling the scammers to use these e-mail accounts to commit other scams, the police added.

The police advised the public to adopt these preventive measures:

- Ignore the pop-up messages and do not call the toll-free number provided. You can open Task Manager, select the Web browser, and click on the "End Task" button to close the pop-up message.

- Do not panic and do not follow any instructions telling you to install applications or type commands into your computer.

- Do not reveal any personal information, or credit/debit card, bank and e-mail account details.

Anyone with more information can call the police hotline at 1800-255- 0000, or get in touch via www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. For urgent police assistance, they should call 999.

For scam-related advice, the public can call anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg.