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Sheriff’s Office warns of computer scam

Published: 1/20/2016

For More Information Contact:

Captain John Watterson



The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office would like to warn residents of Dutchess County and surrounding areas of a computer scam which has been occurring recently.

This scam starts when the victim is contacted by someone that they don’t know who claims to work for Microsoft. The victim may be contacted either by phone or via the computer, which will display a pop-up window telling them that the computer has a virus and to call Microsoft at the number provided. Whichever the method of contact, the suspect will then tell the victim that they can fix the computer for a fee and proceeds to elicit credit card and other information from the victim. In most cases there was never a virus or anything wrong with the victim’s computer, and once the money is paid the suspect is never heard from again. In some instances the suspects were even able to get into the victim’s computer and control it remotely; this is a way to convince the victim that it is legitimate and is also very dangerous because they now have access to everything on it. This scam is similar to the FBI MoneyPak virus that has circulated in the recent past, in which the virus locks the victim’s computer and tells them to send money to unlock it.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to offer the following tips to help people avoid being victimized by these individuals:

  • If someone contacts you unsolicited and out-of-the blue, it is most likely a scam. Microsoft or any other reputable company will generally not contact people to offer their services, especially before the person even knows they have a virus. Use extreme caution if you are contacted by someone in an unsolicited way.

  • If you are contacted unsolicited by someone claiming to work for Microsoft or another company, tell them you will need to verify their employment. Then hang up with them, research a number for the company, and call the company using the number that you found. Do not use a number that the person gives you, use an independent number.

  • Do not give credit card information, personal information, or passwords to anyone until you have verified who they work for and that their purpose is legitimate. Once the money is gone it is extremely difficult, and in most cases impossible, to recover it.

  • Don’t panic. The reason that scams are successful is because they prey on people using emotion and/or an urgent situation that they say needs to be fixed immediately – like a loved one in jail or a virus on their computer. Remain calm and you will then be better able to think clearly, weigh the options, and make the best decision. These suspects want their victims to panic and make hasty decisions because that is when they are most vulnerable. Don’t let them get you to make a hasty decision based on the fear of a supposed urgent situation. Keep in mind that if it truly was an urgent circumstance, you would have most likely already known about it when they contacted you. 

If you suspect that you may be a victim of this or any other scam please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 845-486-3800.