One thing that most crooks know how to do is use the element of surprise to their advantage. Their goal is to catch you off guard to get the information they're after.
That's what happened to Susan, a Colorado Springs woman who received disturbing emails from Gmail. Susan said her friends received the same messages and also fell for the scam.
It starts with an email that contains the Google emblem. You're told that your account has been used to violate cyber law. (What?!) It then claims Gmail has received extensive complaints that your email address is being used to send dirty videos, pornographic sites, and pictures.
It goes on to say, Gmail knows this might have taken place without your knowledge. Then you're asked to call Gmail technical support at 1-877-778-2714.
There's the hook.
Susan called and said a helpful man who said he worked for Google in Seattle and gave her an account number. He asked questions and promised to clear up the issue right away. The catch: It would cost $29.95 to remove the virus and repair her computer.
Susan gave him her American Express card number and remote access to her computer.
"I will run the scan and give you the results in 10 minutes," the man said. He called her back and told Susan that her computer was fixed. Then he went digging for more.
The crook said Susan's computer needed updates, which he could take care of the next day. He told her it would cost either $99.99 for Microsoft security software or $149.99 for a "top-notch" version. He promised to call her back the next morning and all would be well.
That gave Susan time to sit and think. She suddenly felt uneasy and called some people she trusts. She learned this alleged expert was a con artist who didn't work for Gmail. She had her computer checked out, changed her password, canceled her credit card and notified the real folks at Gmail.
Susan said she now realizes the emblem, the support page, and the contact information given in the fraudulent email were all bogus.
"We can't be too careful," she said. "I think I don't fall for this stuff, but it's just one more lesson."
Susan shouldn't beat herself up. This is a clever variation of the scam where the bad guys call and say they're with Microsoft and need to remove a virus from your computer.
Don't let these guys catch you off guard. Never feel compelled to take immediate action. Get the information and then do your homework. If you're unsure, dial our KKTV 11 Call for Action team. We're here to help.
Contact Betty Sexton at email@example.com or call 457-8214