Scareware scammers cold call, demand remote access

Some Americans are being harassed by phony computer repairmen calling potential victims and demanding remote access to their PCs to clean up non-existent malware.

The scam has hit enough residents in the State of Connecticut that its Attorney General George Jepsen issued a warning on Saturday to be wary of the scam.

“Scam callers are contacting Connecticut residents to warn them their computers are damaged or at risk of crashing,” Jepsen said.

“But don’t fall for the scare tactic to get you to buy services you don’t need or to access a bogus website that may install damaging malware on your computer.”

It's not clear exactly what the scammers are installing on victims' PCs but the state warns that visiting a “specific website” could leave victims with malware designed to steal sensitive personal information.

As with other purveyors of scareware before them, the scammers charge victims a fee for the fraudulent service but may also demand additional fees for remediating the problems they created.

The scammers also typically knew the name and addresses of their victims before making the call.

Connecticut state Democrat representative Dian Urban claims she recently received a call from the scammers and was shocked by how "pushy" they were.

"It immediately worried me because I know my Mum would have done exactly what they said, and my mother is a senior citizen," said Urban.

The high pressure phone pitch comes as the US Federal Trade Commission began mailing cheques to more than 300,000 victims of a Winfixer and Drive Cleaner scareware advertising campaign that netted its operators over $8 million.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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