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Police warn of phone scams after 77-year-old transfers thousands to a ‘Microsoft employee’

(Courtesy photo/Utilities United Against Scams)
(Courtesy photo/Utilities United Against Scams)

James City County Police are warning residents of phone and computer scams after a 77-year-old James City County woman lost several thousand dollars from someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee.

On Jan. 25, police received a report from a 77-year-old woman stating she had received a call from a person allegedly from Microsoft five days earlier, according to James City County Police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.

The man said her computer was running slow and he needed to fix it by remotely accessing the laptop. The woman agreed, giving him access.

While on the computer, the man told the woman her laptop was running slow because of issues with the computer itself, and Microsoft was going to refund her $300, Williams said.

The man then requested access to her bank account while he was remotely controlling the computer, so he could make the transfer.

The woman agreed, giving him access to her bank, Williams said.

The next day, a person claiming to be from Microsoft contacted the woman, telling her they had transferred too much money and needed her to wire it back to Hong Kong, which she did.

Three days later, the scammers called her again, telling her they had mistakenly transferred too much again and needed it back.

On Jan. 30, she was contacted another time. After the third call requesting her to transfer money, a bank clerk caught the transactions and “attempted to help her,” Williams said.

Over the course of five days, the woman transferred several thousand dollars to Hong Kong.

Police recommend people do not allow anyone to have remote access their computer, or give anyone information about their bank accounts.

“[N]ever wire money to someone without verifying the identity and validity of the person/business accessing your computer, your account and/or receiving your wired funds,” Williams wrote in an email. “Wiring funds is just like sending cash; when you wire money, you can’t get it back.”

Williams also said purchasing prepaid cards or gift cards and providing those numbers over the phone or internet is not a typical way to do business – and is likely a scam.

“If anyone is ever unsure as to whether or not a transaction, phone call, email inquiry, etc. is a scam, we would encourage you to call police before providing any information or funds just to be sure,” Williams wrote.

“We would also encourage people to make sure they talk to their older friends and family members about common scams since they are often targeted.”

For more information on identifying scams, visit the James City County website.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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