Cybercriminals target Sweetwater residents

Staff Writer

SWEETWATER- Judy Leighow is upset. Mrs. Leighow has been the target of a scam. Her computer was hacked and as a result, held hostage by the scammers until she paid up. Only when she paid, they demanded more money. “Someone called my landline, left several messages and a phone number to call back. They identified themselves as being from Microsoft, gave employee identification numbers and said my Windows license had expired. They said I needed to renew it right away. They then instructed me to hold down the Windows key and type in ‘Supremo’.”
The latter move downloaded malware into Mrs. Leighow’s computer system, rendering it useless. When Mrs. Leighow attempted to log-on, the computer ran slow and there was a telephone help number to call for “Network Protection” in place of her user ID. Mrs. Leighow called the number and reached a phone bank where Mrs. Leighow could hear a lot of commotion.”They asked for my debit card so I could renew it. They wanted $138.03. They instructed me not to inform the bank about the withdrawal as the bank would add a “computer tax” if they saw it was for ‘computer service’.”
The extortion money was received, but the scammers were not yet done. “They became even more brazen. They said they needed to verify my license in their system, which would cost two hundred dollars more.” Mrs. Leighow balked and said she couldn’t keep sending money. “The scammers said a strange thing: “Can you do one-hundred dollars, then? Can you go to a store and send us two fifty dollar I-Tunes cards?” (See story remainder in Jan. 24 Monday or E-Edition of The Sweetwater Reporter.)