THE Spanish National Police are warning of a new fraud involving fake computer and smartphone viruses.
According to the force, an alleged Microsoft employee contacts the victims by phone and warns them – in English or Spanish, but always with a non-native accent – that their computer could be infected with a virus.
Calls usually come from telephone numbers beginning with 502, 530, 531 or 077, although the fraudsters can also sometimes supplant official customer service numbers.
Victims are called randomly through automatic dialling systems, meaning that the conmen do not directly target any specific telephone numbers.
Several reports over the last month reveal that the fraudsters claim to represent the Microsoft Corporation and are calling because they have received a number of safety warnings from the victim’s IP address.
In order to allegedly prevent their computer from being blocked, the person receiving the call is required to install a certain application.
Alternatively, the conmen sometimes contact people through a pop-up window on their computer or smartphone, warning of an error and either providing a telephone number to call or asking the potential victim to provide theirs.
In both cases, the person targeted is given a set of instructions to follow in order to install what is claimed to be a safety programme, but which is really a virus that enables the fraudsters to access the device remotely.
This enables them to learn passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, open photographs and documents, and read emails, among other actions.
Finally, the caller says the programme has been successfully installed and requests the victim to enter their bank account details and card numbers on a fake website to pay for the service.
They then use this information to make transfers to their own accounts, change cash for Bitcoins, and make purchases on several online businesses.
According to the police, in one case the conmen used the bank account details to apply for a loan of up to €3,000 in the victim’s name.
The authorities suggest using prepaid accounts and cards for online purchases, so that in the case of falling prey to one of these cons, the victim would only lose a limited amount of money.
In addition, the National Police warns people not to follow any instructions of this type given over the phone and, if called, are urged to put the phone down immediately and contact the force on 091.