BE ALERT: Lester Platts is spreading the word to be alert to computer scams.
BE ALERT: Lester Platts is spreading the word to be alert to computer scams. Trevor Veale

Scammers look for easy prey

LESTER Platts was at his home computer with a cuppa, ready to browse one of his favourite buy-and-sell websites and maybe pick up a bargain or two.

With one click of the mouse this Boambee local got a lot more than he bargained for.

"I clicked into what I thought was the usual site and then next thing my screen went 'whoosh' and wording came up saying, "You are being attacked by a virus. Do not do anything. Ring this number immediately" they had control, I couldn't move the mouse to even shut down the computer," Lester said.

Not sure what to do next, Lester decided to ring the the number on the screen. To quote Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman, "Big mistake, huge".

"I phoned the 1800 number and the guy on the other end claimed to be from a company associated with Telstra. He said to get rid of the malware virus I would have to make a payment."

Luckily this is when Lester's radar starting kicking in and he became suspicious.

"They didn't want a credit card payment they wanted access to my online banking. The guy was adamant I had online banking and that he could see it on my computer but I don't use online banking.

"He kept talking about all the payment options saying he could fix the problem and protect the computer for so much money over either one year, two years or a lifetime and he could also protect the printer for $50 extra and the phone for another $50. He was talking around $1500 US dollars all together to sort out the problem."

At this stage of the conversation Lester definitely smelled a rat.

"I challenged him and said 'you're a scammer' but he kept insisting he was legitimate and put me onto his supervisor. Then this other guy gets on to the phone saying he is from a different company all together so I hung up."

Many people fall into the nets of hackers and scams, often not saying anything for fear of looking foolish.

Lester is telling his story to warn others, he doesn't want others to make the same mistake. It's easy to say 'this would never happen to me' but can you be so sure?'

"Whatever you do, don't ring the number, turn the power off and leave it off for a few hours. They come back but they will know they've been caught out."

Lester is advising everyone to take a look at the government's Scamwatch website. This gives detailed yet easy to understand information about different types of scams, including the "phishing" scam where scammers pretend to be from well known business similar to what happened to Lester.

"I've emailed all my friends and told everyone, don't ever ring the number that pops up on the screen."

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