'Microsoft Internet phone scam' makes its way to Singapore

'Microsoft Internet phone scam' makes its way to Singapore

SINGAPORE - So the infamous 'Microsoft Internet phone scam' has made it to Singapore.

Singapore police said in a statement today that they had received several reports of victims of the scam, and are advising computer users who receive calls from scammers to ignore them and not make any payment.

The so-called 'Microsoft Internet phone scam' involves someone posing as a technical support staff of a major software company. Microsoft was the company most used by the scammers when the scam started, hence the name.

The caller would convince a computer user that his machine has been infected by a virus or requires an update. The victim, if he believed the caller, would be asked to download some software from the Internet.

The police said that the caller would also ask the victim for passwords or identification codes in some instances.

Some victims would then observe that their computers behaving strangely after following the scammers' instructions, and the scammers would convince them that they needed to buy more software. They will then be guided to make payments online or to give their credit card numbers over the phone.

The scam was reported widely last year in many tech publications and websites (see here and here), and more than one person has documented how they outsmarted these scammers by playing along initially (see this and this).

The Singapore police are advising members of the public to change their computer password and any account passwords if they have followed a scammer's instructions, and to change the passwords from a different computer other than the affected one, if possible.

The police also urges anyone with information about this scam to call the police hotline at 1800-255-000, or to dial '999' for urgent police assistance.

sinsh@sph.com.sg

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