South Tipperary computer owners are being warned about a telephone scam that disables their machines with a “nasty” virus they are told can only be removed for a fee.
The warning has come from a Clonmel computer repairs firm, Tech Hut, that has dealt with a number of customers, who have fallen victim to the swindle in the past three weeks.
John Kelly, one of the firm’s partners, said the fraudsters seem to be targeting computer owners in the Clonmel area at the moment.
He explained that they phone a person at their home and say they are from a big software multi-national and that you need to get software installed on your computer urgently because it has been infected with a virus.
“The callers are very forceful and tell you that you must go on your computer immediately.
“They get you to install software on your computer and once they have access to it they install a nasty virus, which basically disables the computer.
“They then ask you for €140 and if you don’t pay the money they won’t remove the virus.”
Mr Kelly advised computer owners who receive such a phone call not to entertain the caller in any way and just put down the phone.
He said if these people can gain access to your computer to install a virus they may also have access to sensitive personal information you have stored on your machine.
And for those unfortunate to get caught out by the scam, he advised that they should under no circumstances pay over any money to the caller as you will be giving them access to your bank or credit card accounts.
Mr Kelly said the virus can be removed at a computer repair shop.
Gda. Sgt. Tom O’Dwyer at Clonmel Garda Station echoed Mr Kelly’s warning and advice to computer owners.
He said the Gardai received several complaints about the scam a year ago but had not received any complaints recently.