Oahu man falls victim to ransomware scam; what happened and how to avoid it


Computer experts say ransomware attacks, which happen when malicious software blocks access to your computer, happen every day.

An Oahu man learned the hard way why it’s so dangerous to give in to such a scam and give away your personal information.

Hawaii Better Business Bureau CEO Greg Dunn says a man recently reported to them that he clicked on a pop-up ad which said that his computer was infected. The ad instructed him to call a toll-free number.

“The people on the other end of the phone logged into the computer remotely through the internet, so he installed some software on his computer that allowed them access to fix his computer,” Dunn said.

Once the scammer had access, he eventually asked the man to log in to his bank account, claiming he was giving him a refund of membership fees. He did so thinking it was a company he thought he had done business with before.

“So he logged into his bank here locally on his computer and while he was on his computer, the computer tech support company made it appear that they had refunded him $1,200 on his bank account,” Dunn said.

Then the man told him that was too much and that he owed back $599, so he was taken to the iTunes store where he was told he could pay the money back by buying iTunes gift cards. The man ended up paying, but the scammer called again, saying the first cards didn’t work and he needed to send more.

That’s when, Dunn says, the man told them he realized it was a scam.

But it didn’t end there.

“So he got on to this computer, he turned it on, he went to go log in to the BBB site, Better Business Bureau site, to file a complaint against the company,” Dunn said. “As he was on the computer filling out the complaint form, the cursor was going back and blocking out all of the text from being recorded on the computer screen.”

Dunn says the scammer was still logged in to the man’s computer.

The BBB says once that happens, you’ll need professional help to remove the software from your computer

You’re advised not to click on unfamiliar links and don’t share any personal information. You can also install pop-up blockers on your computer, and back up your data regularly.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon2.com.

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