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Computer scammers targeting Durham Region residents

Victims have already lost $32,000 to scam involving anti-virus software sales

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The Durham Regional Police is sending out a warning that the salesman looking to sell you anti-virus software may actually be trying to steal your money.

In recent weeks, the DRPS have investigated two separate incidents where scammers have contacted victims with the proposal of selling them software protection for their Apple or Microsoft computers. The victims are given several options, and once the purchase is made, the software is even installed on the computer.

However, now comes the catch.

“After a few months, the scammer calls back to advise that there is an issue with the software and the purchaser will be fully reimbursed,” the DRPS states. But, when the money is transferred back to the victim’s account, it is more than what they initially paid for the software.

“The victim is told that the company overpaid them and they request that the victim wire them back the outstanding difference. At this point the victim returns the money, however, the suspect has transferred the money from the victim’s Visa or Line of Credit to their account without their knowledge.”

In reality, the anti-virus installed into the computer is a malware and it extracts all the information on the computer including sensitive information.

The suspects in these two cases are targeting older adults and trying to gain the trust of their victims by appearing to be fair and honest, police say. In both cases, the suspect waited a few months before acting out the fraud. The suspect defrauded these victims out of more than $32,000 dollars in total.

The latest scam highlights an unsettling trend in Durham Region, which has seen cases of fraud and identity theft increasing annually since 2012, rising from 1,554 cases that year to 2,860 in 2016.

The DRPS offer several tips for residents to better protect themselves from fraud, including: first do background research about a company or product before making a purchase, never provide personal information through the Internet or by email, ask for advice from friends or family, specifically someone with expertise in the product being purchased, and keep access codes, user ID, passwords, and PINs secret.

For more information or to report a scam attempt, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.

Anyone wishing to report fraud in Durham Region is asked to contact Durham Regional Police at 1-888-579-1520.