Internet scam nets more than $100,000 from Steamboat residents | SteamboatToday.com

Internet scam nets more than $100,000 from Steamboat residents

— More than $100,000 has been taken from local residents as part of an online "Windows Technical Services" scam, according to the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

The scam has occurred all over the United States but locally has affected a small number of senior citizens, Detective Josh Carrell said.

The scam involves the perpetrator contacting a victim to offer them an antivirus or anti-hacking program for their computer and later contacting them again to tell them that a problem has occurred and that the program must be uninstalled and their account reimbursed for the cost of the program.

The victim is asked to download a remote access application such as TeamViewer or Remote Desktop and asked to verify that the returned payment has been deposited into their bank account.

Using the remote access, the perpetrator then gains access to the victim's account, maintaining control of the account and continuing to harass the victim with further requests for money.

In the Steamboat cases, the money has been traced to another country, and the foreign bank involved is being less than cooperative with the investigation, Carrell said.

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"It's very difficult to get restitution for these victims, unfortunately," he said.

Local law enforcement is working in coordination with federal agencies to try to get restitution for local victims.

While the scammer is using a remote access program to gain access to accounts, Carrell said the programs are legitimate when used for intended purposes.

"I don't want to put a bad light on these programs. That's just how these things are being perpetrated," Carrell said.

Carrell encourages the public to use good judgment when it comes to online activity and personal banking information.

"Do not ever allow anybody to download anything onto your computer," Carrell said. "And never access your bank account when someone else has access to your computer."

People also should not send money via Western Union unless they have confirmed the identity of the person they are sending it to.

A Crime Stoppers release about the scam also noted that residents should know that they never will receive an unsolicited call from Microsoft.

Those who suspect they've been a victim of an Internet scam are encouraged to contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting http://www.ic3.gov and reporting their crime complaint.

More information about common scam tactics and how to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a similar scam is available on Microsoft's website, http://www.microsoft.com.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow