• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swedes targeted in new 'Microsoft' phone scam

Patrick Reilly · 5 May 2014, 12:29

Published: 05 May 2014 12:29 GMT+02:00

"We are calling you from Microsoft's head office in London. Your computer has a serious virus and you need to open it immediately so we can fix it, otherwise it will crash," is the message many Swedes have been getting in recent weeks. 

Most hang up the phone, but there are many computer rookies, like retired people, who fall prey to the bluff.

"In Stockholm county alone we get about five to six calls a week from victims who have been scammed," Anders Olofsson, crime prevention officer with the Swedish fraud squad, told The Local.

The scammers, who typically speak English with a strong Indian accent, then attempt to access people's computers remotely to steal money from their bank accounts.

One victim, a 71-year old retired schoolteacher, told The Local how she was almost swindled out her pension fund by the fraudulent tactics.

She said that her phone rang at 8am one recent morning, and then she was tricked and bullied for several hours by the scammers.

"It felt like being raped," said the victim who who wished to remain anonymous.

"They said they were in an office in London and you could hear a lot of noise in the background. At first the girl was very patient with me, making me feel like the Queen, although her English wasn't great which surprised me."

She added that the woman on the phone told her to visit a website, enter some details about her computer and then click on a button.

At that point she claimed her computer screen went dark.

"The girl on the phone said 'I can see you with your webcam' and added that we could fix the computer together."

However, the scammer's patience wore thin when the elderly Swede wouldn't give her complete bank card number.

"She said 'I'm going to get my boss' who came on the phone and told me I was crazy, that I had to give them my card details or my computer would crash," said the victim.

Reluctantly, she did so but was suspicious and contacted a legal friend who told her to ring her bank immediately. Her bank told her that there had already been two attempts to take money from her account.

Anders Olofsson at the fraud squad said that polite old people regularly fell victim. 

"Old people are the most vulnerable as they don't want to be rude and will talk on the phone," he told The Local. "Sadly, this type of fraud has been around for years but although people are aware, there are some who slip under the radar," 

The new hacking scam recently featured on the Swedish crime show Efterlyst ("Wanted") where a number of victims came forward. In 2011 The Local reported on a similar fraud, where victims were tricked into giving their personal details to supposed Microsoft staff.

Story continues below…

The software giant has always maintained that it would never call people and ask for money to fix a computer problem.

Indeed, the US company has said that greater awareness of the issue is vital to preventing future frauds.

"The most successful way to combat these scams is by making people aware of them," Per-Ragnar Johansson, an advocacy specialist with Microsoft in Sweden, told The Local in 2011.

Swedish police told The Local that when traces were ran on the money scams, they were tracked to Bombay and Calcutta, although a few were in the UK.

"We simply don't have the resources to track down every single fraud that is traced internationally. What we can do is try and prevent them and tell people to be extra careful," said Olofsson.

He added; "If somebody rings telling you that you have a problem with your computer and wants money - then just hang up." 

Patrick Reilly (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police resources back to normal after terror threat
The headquarters where Säpo, Sweden's security police is based. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedish police say they're no longer deploying extra resources following a reported terror threat in the run-up to Eurovision.

Why this fearless woman is the talk of Sweden
Photo: David Lagerlöf/Expo/TT

Swedes are calling this picture an instant icon.

Opinion
'Swedes, please give your sperm a purpose'
File picture of an embryo. Photo: Richard Drew/AP

Swedish men should stop jerking off in public places and start donating sperm to help single women have babies, argues Stockholm-based writer Matilda Karlsson.

Petrol firm tries to woo women to pumps with new name
A Statoil station in Enköping. Photo: Fredrik Strandberg/TT

A Statoil petrol station in Stockholm today becomes the first in Europe to get a makeover.

Half of Swedes support law banning begging
A man begs for money on Hamngatan in central Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Only one political party in Sweden wants a ban on begging, but half the population shares their view, a new survey shows.

Presented by Stockholm University
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Photo: Stockholm University

Thousands of outstanding researchers from across the globe have chosen to make Stockholm University their home and hub. What is it that attracts them? We asked.

Stockholm taxi drivers 'help clients find prostitutes'
A Taxi Stockholm car driving in the capital. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Drivers from Stockholm’s biggest taxi firm are suspected of helping fuel the sex trade despite the purchase of sex being illegal in Sweden.

Eurovision 2016
Eurovision set for US as gay channel announces live show
Eurovision flags flying in Stockholm this week. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Now you can watch Eurovision in the US too.

'Isis' kids get taken into care in central Sweden
File picture of children in the middle east. Photo: AP /Manu Brabo

Three siblings authorities feared could be forced to go abroad to get married or fight alongside extremists have been taken into care in central Sweden.

Eurovision 2016
Palestine envoy angry at 'insulting' flag ban
The Palestinian flag (left) was included on the same banned list as that of Islamic State (right)

The Palestinian Ambassador to Sweden has waded into the row over a Eurovision ban on the Palestinian flag calling it "insulting" and "a big mistake".

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: Stockholm's secret dating scene
National
Sweden set for sunny weekend
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vollsjö, Sjöbo
Features
How to be a cool Swede during a hot summer
Blog updates

29 April

Editor’s blog, April 29th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Relations between Sweden and Russia went from slightly strained to full-on James Bond this…" READ »

 

18 April

A day as a guard (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Life as an Ambassador. Driven around in the Jaguar. Visits all planned so you go straight…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Kista: The best office space in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: April 29th - May 1st
Sponsored Article
'Swedes must realize only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Analysis & Opinion
Why Sweden's fretting about Brexit
National
INTERVIEW: Swedish police officer 'beat me up and used racial slurs'
Gallery
People-watching: April 27th
Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
Öresund bridge border checks net record number of drink drivers
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
National
Swedes bid farewell to iconic Volvo
Gallery
Property of the week: Enköping
Sponsored Article
Why international researchers love to call Malmö home
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd-24th
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Politics
Could Brits in Europe stop Brexit?
National
The first official picture of Sweden's new royal Prince Alexander
Sponsored Article
‘Life in Stockholm’s suburbs is better than people realize’
National
Sweden's Sami reindeer still live in the shadow of Chernobyl
Sponsored Article
'I may work at a Swedish company, but we’re global'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 20th
Sponsored Article
'A sustainable Sweden must embrace diversity'
National
Why was a Nazi flag hoisted in a Swedish town on Hitler's birthday?
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
How did Sweden's deputy PM get in trouble over New York comments?
Sponsored Article
Sigtunaskolan: 'The best of what Sweden has to offer'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 16th-17th
Sponsored Article
'I may work at a Swedish company, but we’re global'
Culture
Sweden finally axes historic dancing ban
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: Stockholm's secret dating scene
International
Have you phoned Sweden yet?
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 13th
National
Is booze going up in Sweden?
National
How Sweden's fake 'smombie' traffic sign is being used for real
3,289
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se