Couple fell victim to computer scam

A Garstang couple conned by bogus computer “experts” have warned others - don’t be duped like we were.

Thursday, 21st February 2013, 11:00 am
Stung: Doreen and David Blanks at their Garstang home

Doreen Blanks admits ruefully that she never thought she’d be taken in by a phone scam.

But that’s just what happened to her when her husband answered the phone last Friday to a personable sounding man claiming to be from Microsoft.

Within minutes the caller had gained control of her computer and was telling her essential work was needed to avoid the computer crashing.

Doreen wrote to the Courier saying: “I am writing to tell you of a horrible experience that my husband and I endured last Friday, so that other people might be warned not to fall into the trap.”

Doreen told the caller she was not interested but he rang straight back.

She recalled: “He spoke with a foreign accent. He assured me he was from Microsoft and foolishly I listened - if only I had put the phone down straight away! I didn’t and once I turned the computer on he was in charge.”

The man told her he needed to correct something on the computer and this would be done free of charge. He then referred to an ID number which he said was known only by Doreen and Microsoft.

She said: “He did show me a number but being a 75-year-old who has come to computing in my later years I did not know enough to know whether the nnumber was what he said.

“The worst part began to happen as he literally took control of my computer and among other things showed us lots of files that had red or yellow warnings on them that he said would make my computer crash if not dealt with.

“I was between the devil and the deep blue sea. If I didn’t continue what would happen to my computer, if I did I had the same question.” It was another hour before the crunch came - they could fix the comptuer but for £150 for a four year warranty provided through an English rep in Argentina.

Doreen added: “We tried to pay with three different cards but each bank refused.

“Then they rang off, ostensibly to find another method to pay. I knew we had been scammed. We knew we would have to cancel the cards, but didn’t know what damage had been done to the computer.”

A local expert advised her the computer’s hard drive would have to be wiped and set up again. The banks concerned had recognised the potential transactions as scams and blocked them.

Doreen concluded: ”The scammers haven’t got any of our money, but we still had to pay £75 to have the computer sorted out.”

Doreen and her husband, a retired insurance manager are both members of Garstang Methodist Church and lay preachers.

Doreen said: ”I don’t know why I fell for this scam. Others have tried and I have put the phone down. In my favour it was quite early in the monring and the word Microsoft carried some weight.

“What I can say is don’t be fooled as we were - my husband was beside me all the time and we were on the phone for about an hour and a half.

“By the time we were finished and with all the sorting out that followed we were frazzled and exhausted.

“I’m very suspicious now whenever I answer the phone.”