I wasn’t planning to write back-to-back columns about guys with Indian accents trying to scam me. But I offer my cautionary tales as a public service to warn other potential victims. This scam involved “pirates” seizing my computer.
I was quietly clicking away at my computer last week. Deleting junk e-mails is my new part-time job. I was careful to click on e-mails and websites that I knew to be safe. Suddenly, this very scary warning popped up on my screen. It said that a deadly virus had invaded my computer. Having suffered catastrophic computer crashes in the past, I was in a panic.
Suddenly, another message said that a certain company could come to my rescue by removing the virus. I made the mistake of clicking on this offer and this allowed the pirates to take control of my computer. They wanted me to pay them $300 to remove the virus and install virus protection. The next thing I know I’m on the phone with them and the pirate spoke to me with an Indian accent.
I’ve nothing against people with Indian accents but it was eerily similar to the guy who called me from the “IRS” the week before. Though the pirate applied very high pressure, I resisted paying him and instead called my trusted guys at Avenue Computer in Oak Park. An employee named Eden answered and advised me to shut down my computer immediately. He also warned me not to provoke the pirates, because they could do some serious damage to my programs.
After I shut down, my phone continued to ring. The pirates were relentless. I politely asked them to get off my computer but ended up screaming at them on the phone. The “supervisor” came on and said, if I continued shouting, he’d hang up on me.
The next morning, I brought my PC to Avenue Computer. Eden told me they get countless calls like mine. The shop owner, Josh Jennett, of Forest Park, later explained that the pirates use very malicious malware to invade computers through “good” websites and programs. The pirates then offer to remove their virus for a fee. Once they get in the computer, they won’t leave until they’re paid.
Fortunately, Eden was able to remove the pirates right away. He also upgraded my virus protection and did something to speed up my computer. He charged me a nominal fee for doing this. I would have paid 10 times as much for the peace of mind he provided. He told me of an employee who lost his job because the pirates destroyed all of his work files.
Since that pirate attack, I’ve talked to other victims. One paid the $300 ransom to get his computer back. So be careful where you click. And if someone offers to fix the problem they’ve created, call someone you can trust.
Now, for another public service, here’s an update on Brian Bell and the U.S. Men’s Olympic Wheelchair Basketball team (I wrote about Brian previously because of his Forest Park connections). In their first game, the U.S. beat Brazil 75-38. Brian dominated on both ends of the court, with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. His team next beat Germany 77-52, with Brian scoring 13 points. In their 93-44 romp against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Brian scored 13 points in the first quarter alone. Here’s hoping the U.S. team can continue cruising to the Gold.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.