Local woman loses out in ransomware scam

Wednesday 10 July 2019

A 36 year old Inverclyde woman is counting the cost after falling victim to a ransomware phone scam.

The woman, who asked not to be named, issued this warning to other local residents, “I got a call out of the blue from a man who sounded Indian but said his name was Paul Collins. He said he worked for Avast and that my IP address (Internet protocol – the unique number that identifies all electronic hardware linked to the Internet) had been stolen.

“I used to have Avast (anti-virus software) on my computer so I thought it must be a genuine call. He said that my email address was being used for fraudulent activity and that I needed to give him remote access to my computer to secure it. He said that my Microsoft security software was missing.

“The next minute my laptop was locked. He said the hackers had locked it and that I would need to pay him £162 to unlock it. I paid him and he removed the passwords. I called Virgin afterwards and they said that my email had been secure all along.

“My bank won’t refund the money because I made the payment. I’ve had to change all my bank details. I can’t find these people anywhere. The London number that came up on the phone is dead. The payment details are for a company in Sydney, Australia, not Avast, and I can’t get in touch with them either.”

Councillor Michael McCormick, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee, said, “This case features all the hallmarks of a scam. Genuine companies do not phone individuals out-of-the-blue to tell them there is a problem with their computer.

“Our advice is to be very wary of anyone who asks you to give them remote access to your computer. If you use your computer for online banking or Internet shopping, you are giving them access to all you bank and personal information. If they lock your computer, as happened in this case, you could also lose all your personal files. Make sure Windows Remote Desktop and Windows Remote Assistance are turned off. This will help to stop hackers taking over your machine."

Page last updated: 11 July 2019