Computer, phone scams bilk millions out of victims

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - When Jim Byrd's phone rang several weeks ago, it wasn't long before he became suspicious. The caller with a foreign accent, claimed to have new medical cards.

"And also said he needed to know which bank we dealt with, and I assume he might have known we have direct deposit for our Social Security and Medicare and so forth," said Byrd.

When Jim asked questions, the caller continued to fish for more information.

The Byrd's got three calls, and know others who received the same call. It's not unlike a 90-year-old woman in Kershaw County who bought $900 in prepaid money cards and handed them over after someone called claiming to be from Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes called her.

"They'll go to any lengths and represent themselves to be the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the banks, Sheriff's Office or whatever to get people to send money or give them confidential private information, banking numbers, Social Security numbers, any kind of information like credit card numbers, do not do it," said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.

If you think it's just the elderly you're wrong. Meet Chip Fallaw, his laptop targeted by the newest scam a Ransomware virus during exams.

Fallaw was working on a paper for school when a pop-up appeared.

"It had the Justice Department logo, your web cams right there, and they want you to pay," said Fallaw.

They froze the computer, taking over the webcam and making Fallaw feel "kind of violated" in his words. How'd they do it?

"I have no idea," said Fallaw. "My father was saying through email, different websites, any website could trigger it."

His webcam is still on. Fallaw didn't pay up and worries what else scammers may have accessed.  He'll have an IT specialist look over the computer, but worries others may be fooled into paying, thanks to the official look of warning. Like the Byrds he cautions you not to get taken, by hackers looking to make a quick buck.

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