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Beshear: Kentuckians Report $92,000 in Losses from Computer Virus Scam

Beshear: Kentuckians Report $92,000 in Losses from Computer Virus Scam

Bill Stephens

May 1st, 2019

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Jefferson County resident lost $89,000 after giving login data to recover infected computer

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 1, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear has issued a scam alert following a report from a Jefferson County resident who lost $89,000 to a computer virus scam.

While Beshear’s office is working with other agencies, the victim’s money has not been recovered.

In the last two months, Beshear’s office has received complaints from Kentuckians in Daviess, Fayette, Franklin, Jefferson and Johnson counties. The losses from the complaints total more than $92,000.

Beshear said the scam is committed when a victim is using their computer and a fictitious pop-up window appears saying there is a virus and to seek help by calling a 1-800 number. After dialing the number, the victim is connected to a scammer who pretends to assist, but is really only collecting computer login credentials so they can steal personal and financial information.

“These scammers won’t clean your hard drive, but they will clean out your bank account,” said Beshear. “Just as we wouldn’t give a stranger a key to our homes, Kentuckians should never give a stranger access to their personal computers.”

An additional report included a scammer posing as a Microsoft technician. The fake technician called to assist a victim with their computer and instructed them to buy Google Play cards to pay for technical assistance. The Franklin County victim lost $2,900.

Beshear added that scammers prey on a victim’s fear of losing the information on their computer, relying on them to act in a rush.

The Office of the Attorney General recommends these tips to avoid falling victim to a computer virus scam:

  • If you suspect your computer is infected with a virus or malware, update your security software and operating system or visit a company you know and trust for assistance;
  • Don’t call a phone number or click on a link from a pop-up message or unfamiliar email;
  • According to the official Microsoft website, Microsoft error and warning messages never include phone numbers;
  • Don’t trust numbers even if they display a legitimate tech support business name or phone number;
  • Never give a caller remote access to your computer or personal device;
  • Never buy gift cards to provide payment to “tech support” callers.

To report scams to the Office of the Attorney General, fill out the online consumer complaint form.

Beshear recommends all Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers by signing up for his office’s Scam Alerts. To enroll, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV-311 (468-311) or online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

The Office of Senior Protection and Mediation works to help families avoid scams and recover when they fall victim.

Over the past three and a half years, the office has returned more than $2.1 million to Kentucky families – roughly $2,600 returned per day.

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