One in four web users have been targeted by a cold-calling scam that claims to have discovered a virus on your PC.
The con, first reported by PC Pro back in March, comprises of organised gangs calling people and informing them they have a virus on their PC. The fraudsters then trick the victims into installing a piece of rogue software on their PCs which is used to steal credit-card details, as well as charging them up to £185 to remove the non-existent virus.
In recent cases, we have seen gangs employing 300-400 people to run their operations and using call centre-scale set ups to target victims en masse
New figures published by the Government-sponsored Get Safe Online group claim that 24 per cent of UK adults have been approached by a fake IT helpdesk offering to remove a virus from their PC.
"Given that our latest research indicates 80 per cent of UK internet users have never heard of these 'IT helpdesk' scams, yet almost a quarter have been approached by them, it is vital that we make people aware of this threat," said Baroness Neville-Jones, minister of state for security.
"While it's encouraging to see that UK web users are today more security-aware, criminals will always try to be ahead of the game and will use increasingly sophisticated methods to take advantage where they can."
The police claim the scam is operated by highly organised gangs. "This is big business," said Sharon Lemon, deputy director of cyber crime at the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). "In recent cases, we have seen gangs employing 300-400 people to run their operations and using call centre-scale set ups to target victims en masse.
"They can also be paying out as much as $150,000 a month (on a pay-per-download basis) to individual webmasters who are unwittingly advertising their fake software - this level of investment from criminals indicates that the returns are much heftier than this."
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