If you didn’t initiate the call, it is a scam call.
Tech Tip Carol related this story to Mason PI. I hope it will help others realize the potential for cyber scams and what to do if it happens to you or someone you care about.
Evelyn, a former Intelligence officer during WWII and teacher of the arts, now 90, lives in Washington, DC. She is a socialite and graduate of a prestigious college. Her manners are impeccable — polite and measured. She embraced working on a computer to do her letters and email. She prided herself on being a participant of the technical world and staying abreast of the times.
One day while at her desk, she received a phone call. She was contacted by a man who asked her what kind of computer she used. She replied, Apple. He then identified himself as working for Apple to address malware that had gotten into the system and needed to be corrected.
Her manners and lack of knowledge about computer issues caused her to stay on the phone and talk with him. She began to do as he asked which ultimately was to allow him to have access to her computer and download his software which was malware. He asked her to keep her computer up and running until he called back. She agreed and hung up, bewildered.
Meanwhile, her home health aide, Sally, a young woman who is far more computer savvy, witnessed this conversation and outcome. Sally called Tech Tip Carol right away. Tech Tip Carol asked to speak with Evelyn and explained a terrible breach of her privacy had just occurred on her computer. On Tech Tip Carol’s advise and Evelyn’s ok, Sally shut down the computer.
You see, by giving access to the computer, the man who called could copy all Evelyn's files from her computer to his. She had sensitive files and banking files. He needed the computer to be running (online) in order to make the copy of the files which can take a bit of time. By turning off her computer, the copying of files ceased. (BTW, the man never called back.)
The immediate first steps were to place calls to banks, credit card companies, people involved with trusts, brokerage firms, and the financial registered representative. It was outside business hours but they had the personal numbers for these individuals and place the calls instead of waiting for normal business hours. Then this incident was reported to the police - but they don’t have a protocol to address cyber crime.
This aftermath took the better part of the following day alongside a family member who had flown in to help.
Tech Tip Carol powered on the computer and kept it offline. She checked the computer and the downloaded software was verified - this type of malicious file cannot be removed. The possibility of the man having access to her computer again, if the computer was brought back online, was a very real possibility. Unfortunately, Evelyn would not be able to work on this computer again.
It was agreed, Evelyn needed to have a new computer. However, the exact same operating system was not available on the new computer. That also meant the software for letters was an updated version or different as well. Training for this new environment was needed.
This new computer environment combined with Evelyn’s distress resulted in never successfully returning to her accomplished computer experience. A very sad situation to witness.
Till it happens to you, or someone you care about, it really doesn’t ring home what a violation a computer phone scam is. We must educate ourselves to prevent it.
If you get this kind of call, remember...