KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville woman recently fell victim to a cyber criminal who called her home, claiming to be from Microsoft, and offering to solve computer problems for a price. She received quite the shock when pornographic pictures came up on her computer.
Deborah Wilson's old computer had been running slowly a few days ago when she received an unsolicited phone call.
"The man said he was from Microsoft, and said he has been receiving errors from my computer, Wilson explained. "He wanted to help me fix it."
Wilson agreed to let him help her, asking her to hit the windows button on her keyboard, which she did. A box then came up on her screen, and she entered more information.
"He said I want to show you these errors. He came up with my ID number. He had it on there. So he had control of my computer," she said.
"The computer was just turning, going as fast as it could be there. They controlled the whole thing. We had no control of it whatsoever," said her husband Boyd Wilson.
At that point, the patient but fake technician asked Mrs. Wilson to buy some software to help bring her infected computer back to health.
"He wanted to charge me $200 for a year's service. I told him no, I didn't want to do that," she said.
The cyber thief then asked Wilson not to touch her computer for a few minutes. She watched some of her pictures run by on the screen, but then something shocking happened.
"About that time, some [pornographic] pictures came up," she said. "And I did turn it off, and he immediately called me back."
"The computer [was] showing a bunch of trash and everything. I said something is bad wrong right there," said Wilson's husband.
Deborah Wilson called her friend Tony Wheeler, a computer systems repairman, to help her.
"I thought she had just had the regular old malware and viruses that everyone has been getting, you know. Stuff that's been going around on the Internet for the last two or three years," said Wheeler. He says he then realized Wilson's problem was more serious.
He says once he figured what was wrong, which took a while, he ended up restoring Wilson's system.
Unfortunately, the thief did steal some money from her PayPal account, but nothing more.
"I had to redo everything," Wilson explained. "Credit card, bank account numbers. And all my passwords for everything."
Microsoft's Safety and Security Center is very clear about its position on unsolicited communications and this scam. On a warning page, the giant software company says there are some cases where Microsoft may call you, but would never charge you for any computer fixes.
"[If] someone solicits you out of the blue, that's red flag number one. No different than someone coming up to your front door, you wouldn't let them in your front door. Don't let them in your computer," warned Wheeler.
Deborah Wilson's system is now back to normal.
Even if you would not be fooled by this con, please warn your friends and relatives, especially older ones, who might not be aware of scams like this.