A UK man has fallen victim to ‘computer software service fraud’, leading him to lose around £4,000, reports reveal.
Doug Varey first engaged with the commonplace online scam when he clicked on a pop-up offering computer security protection for 12 years, for a price of £556.
Mr Varey signed up to the offer, having “no reason to suspect it wasn’t genuine,” he told BBC news.
Police in India have now closed down two call centres and arrested seven individuals who are suspected to have been involved in the scam which has duped thousands of computer users. The arrests come in the wake of a major cross-border investigation conducted over four years by police forces in the UK and India, in collaboration with Microsoft.
According to the City of London Police, computer software service fraud has risen to become one of the most popular formats of cyber-scam currently in operation, with more than 2,000 instances of the crime being reported to the UK’s Action Fraud body each month.
Mr Varey underlined how he was initially attracted by the reasonable price of such a long period computer protection, stating: “I thought per year, that’s quite cheap. And I agreed to sign up for it.”
A few months after signing up to the fake service, Mr Varey received a phone-call at his home from the “security firm”, with an operator informing him that there was a serious problem with his computer.
Having been told that a Russian hacker had taken over his computer, Mr Varey looked at his computer screen to see an image of “a thick set man in his 50s…on a computer doing things.”
The phone operator pushed up the pressure on Mr Varey, telling him: “Oh my god, oh my god, this is worse than I thought.’
“He was increasing my level of anxiety to the point where I was panicking,” Mr Varey said.
The images showed the man purchasing firearms, while the phone operator was insisting that the only thing he could do was to increase Mr Varey’s security with a “special offer” advanced protection that would cost £4,000.
“Now at that time, it wouldn’t matter what he said,” he explains. “I wanted to finish with the problem,” Mr Varey said, believing that that he was talking to a company in New York, when he was, in fact, speaking with a firm called Vision Call Services based in Kolkata, India.
Two weeks later, Mr Varey realised he had fallen victim to computer software services fraud. The documents he passed onto City of London Police helped in operations against call centres in Kolkata.
Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police said: “Overseas fraudsters should see this as a warning: we will use every tactic in our power to halt your pernicious criminal activities.”
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