CON artists are trying to trick Wearsiders into paying for computer virus protection, an IT expert today warned.
Michael Gibbon says scores of people in the area have recently received cold calls from people purporting to work for Microsoft.
Mr Gibbon runs the Hetton-based IT consultancy firm Gibbon Online.
He today revealed that he has received hundreds of calls from his clients about the issue.
Specialist officers from Northumbria Police have also warned of the dangers of residents giving callers access to their computer or laptop. “It’s just different convincing tactics,” said Mr Gibbon.
“They will ring up and say “there is a virus on the computer” and make threats about the authorities.
“They’ll ask you to turn your PC on and let them have remote access so that they can fix it.
“They are then asking for between £60 and £150 to give you the protection they say you need.”
Mr Gibbon also said he has tried to get in contact with the callers, but has had no success.
“One of the numbers that called, I tried to ring back but it doesn’t take incoming calls.
“You can’t find out where they are either.”
Mr Gibbon added that a lot of the calls are from people with Asian accents, although not all of them.
Sergeant Alan Batey, of Northumbria Police, said: “We would always warn people of the dangers of anyone cold calling claiming there is an issue with the householder’s computer.
“We always advise people never to give out any personal details - particularly bank details - out over the phone and not agree to give anyone who cold calls access to your computer.
“These are fraudsters who want to scam the owner out of cash or get access to personal details.”
“We’d advise if in any doubt people should report these calls to police of the Office of Fair Trading.
“If a caller is legitimate then they won’t mind people carrying out checks and getting back to them at a later date.”
Advice against computer fraud is available by going to www.northeastfraudforum.co.uk.
To report an incident to police call 101 ext 69191.