25 Jul 2011

New Zealand citizens scammed out of millions in virus hoax

Typically, online scammers attack their victims through email, but in recent attacks in New Zealand, scammers used a less advanced technique - the phone.

New Zealand's Ministry of Consumer Affairs is warning computer users that unscrupulous individuals are calling Kiwis and falsely telling them their computer is infected with a virus. Once they've made the cold-call, scammers convince users to download unnecessary antivirus software and pay upwards of 400 New Zealand dollars ($346) for the privilege.

The government reports the scam has affected about 30 percent of the population and has cost citizens more than NZ$10 million.

"The message is simple: If someone calls you to say your computer has a virus or problem, it is a scam and you should hang up straight away," said the Consumer Affairs' Scamwatch spokesman Jarrod Rendle. "Tell everyone you know about this scam. Share it with your friends, tweet about it, write a letter to your grandparents."

Recently Skype users in Australia and New Zealand have been the target of phishing scams that claim the users are the victim of malware or viruses. Users who are scammed are asked to click a link that brings them to a malicious website.