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Local computer technician warns of scam affecting Riverton residents

Feb 28, 2013 - From staff reports

A local computer technician is worried about a scam that targets residents through fake antivirus scans.

Lee Crook, the owner of ArtistryWeb in Riverton, said he has spoken with several customers in the past couple of months who have been affected by the scam. He said an advertisement will appear on their computers warning of a virus and asking for money for antivirus software.

"(The software) may make the virus turn off, but the main purpose is to get your credit card number," Crook said.

He has a list of legitimate antivirus software companies and advised computer users to stick to well-known businesses like the following: Norton Internet Security (Symantec), AVG, McAfee, BitDefender, ESET NOD32, WebRoot, Avira, Avast, Kaspersky and Microsoft Security Essentials.

"There are more programs than this that are good, but for the sake of safety, I would keep it to this list," Crooks said.

Regardless of the type of software used, Crook said any program that wasn't installed on the computer is not legitimate.

"And no legitimate program will ask for money to take off a virus," he said. "They look legitimate when installed on a computer but are lethal."

For a list of fake anti-virus software visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rogue_security_software.

Crook said another fake pop-up tricks people into thinking the Federal Bureau of Investigation has put a hold on their computer. The false ad says the person has to pay a fine of several hundred dollars to remove the hold.

Crook recommended people download Malwarebytes, a free program that scans a computer regularly to guard against newly developed viruses.

Finally, he said one scheme involves a phone call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee. Crook said the caller will request access to a person's computer, and if access is granted the person will have sensitive documents removed from the machine.

"I would say (these aren't) just passing through," Crook said. "It is becoming the new way of cyber-crime, and it is not going away. The only way to help people from being scammed is if they can be informed of the methods that the cyber-criminals use to steal personal information."

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