Scammers claim to be with Microsoft, swindle Sweetwater woman
Sweetwater, TX - Judy Leighow of Sweetwater says she knows that people fall victim to scams frequently.
She just never thought it would happen to her.
The longtime Sweetwater resident said she received a call on Jan. 3 from scammers claiming to be with Microsoft. They asked if she had renewed her license for Windows, her computer's operating system.
The thieves directed Leighow to her computer to renew the license. She said she was instructed to type in a code, which brought up a program called Supremo. The program allowed the scammers to hack Leighow's computer and log her out of her account.
The only thing left on her computer screen was a number to call "network protection." Leighow called the number and gave the scammers $138.03 to fix the problem.
"See I didn't even know what the Windows button was. I'm not real savvy, computer wise," Leighow said.
Days later, she received another call from scammers telling her to do the exact same thing. This time, they asked her to buy an iTunes gift card. When she went to Walmart she asked a sales clerk about renewing her license, they told her it was a scam.
President and CEO of the Abilene Better Business Bureau John Riggins said this Microsoft scam has been making its rounds for the past three years. Microsoft has asked BBB to share any stories they have to advise the public.
Riggins said there are two things to take away from this cyber scam: first, Microsoft will never call its customers about changes to their licensing, and secondly, people should never give out credit card information over the phone.
"If a company unknown to you is asking for your payment information, that's a red flag," Riggins said.
The BBB is tracking several scams surfacing across the nation on its site, BBB Scam Tracker. The site allows them to monitor trends and see where the scams are happening.
For now, Leighow said she will continue sharing her story to help others become more aware of cyber scams.