The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Computer scamster active

11 August 2010

Internal Affairs Anti-Spam Compliance unit is reiterating yesterday’s warning about a cold caller who offers to fix a problem with home computers. It has today received several calls and emails from people in the South Island who have received similar calls.

Senior investigator Toni Demetriou says a Dunedin computer company had received an infected PC for repairs from a customer who had been taken in by the scamster and police were investigating.

“We now believe the calls are being made from overseas, not from New Zealand as originally suspected, and quite a lot of people are receiving them,” Mr Demetriou said. “The caller can be quite convincing. On one occasion he handed the conversation across to a ‘supervisor’ in an attempt to make the call sound more professional and convincing.

“He also gives various explanations for the calls such as phoning from a reputable and well-known international company, maybe a security and anti-virus vendor, suggesting the PC has been infected by a virus and needs repairs.

“The sole purpose of the call is to convince someone to login to a website. They are given a website name and once they are at the website home page they are then given a six digit code to log into that website.

“Essentially what then happens is that the person is handing over control of their computer to the person they are talking with. If you follow the instructions you will be allowing and authorising remote access to your computer. Just about anything could then happen.

“Viruses, malware, key logging software could be installed onto the computer. Any information on the PC could be taken and any sensitive usernames or login credentials and passwords may also be logged and obtained as you continue to use your computer in the future. If you log into your bank the information could be captured and your account compromised. The computer may also become part of a botnet and used for spamming activities.”

Mr Demetriou said unauthorised access to a computer system is an offence under the Crimes Act. Similarly, if the computer is infected through that unauthorised access and used for spamming activities, the Department of Internal Affairs, which enforces the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, would investigate.

“If anyone believes their PC has been infected and compromised the Department recommends that it is inspected and repaired by a computer servicing company.

Media contact:
Trevor Henry, communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 0275 843 679