A TAMWORTH widow has been left almost $600 out of pocket after she fell victim to an online scam.
Rhona Taylor is urging community members to be vigilant and fears more unsuspecting local residents could be targeted.
Mrs Taylor said the scam unfolded when a pop-up appeared in her web browser alerting her to a ‘virus’ in her computer.
“I was on Facebook and a message popped up on the computer saying it was from Microsoft,” she said.
“It detected a virus in my computer, there was a phone number underneath and I was advised to phone the number; otherwise if I didn’t it could cause complete system failure.
“I phoned the number and I was put on to a tech guy who said the computer had been infected with the Zeus virus which is an identity theft virus related to banking.
“He clicked onto something to describe what the virus is and that it attacks Microsoft windows – it seemed quite legitimate.”
Mrs Taylor questioned the technician over the phone about a potential scam, however she was given a number to call back and keep in touch.
“He said they were going to install all these programs on my computer to stop it being sabotaged again,” she said. “So that would include 12 months of computer support and was $596.
“So we did all that and then a lady phoned me in the afternoon to make sure the computer was working ok. The money came out of my account.”
Mrs Taylor said soon after, she began to have “second thoughts” and asked her son to phone Microsoft to confirm her transaction.
“They said they don’t do anything like that,” Mrs Taylor said.
“I had to file a report with Microsoft and then they advised me to contact my bank. We used my son’s computer to change all my passwords, the bank cancelled my card and they are going to try and get my money back.”
Mrs Taylor said she wanted to share her story to ensure Tamworth residents were aware of the scam.
“I want people to be aware that this message that pops up on the computer saying it is from Microsoft and that their computer is being attacked by a virus is a scam,” she said.
“You’re not aware of it until it happens to you. It all looks so legitimate.”