Several local people are out hundreds of dollars thanks to a recent cold call scam involving non-existent computer viruses.
Recently, local computer technician, Michael Prunner of MP Computer Services reported several incidents to the local police involving clients who had received calls.
In fact, Constable Peter Robertson, Media Relations Officer for the SD&G OPP, said this will be Crime Stoppers “Crime of the Week.”
Prunner said the people calling most often say they are from Microsoft and “they tell you that you have a serious problem with your Windows. One even told the customer that their Windows had expired.”
Here is an example of a typical cold call: “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of Microsoft Support Team. Your computer is sending error messages to us, which tells us that you have viruses and some corrupted files. I can help you fix that now.”
“They sit you down in front of your computer telling you that you have bad stuff on your computer and they need to work on it. Basically, they use all free cleaners and they charge you 10 times more than it’s worth,” informed Prunner.
According to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Kerry Petryshyn, this is what is called “deceptive marketing.”
What this means is that the person calling is from a “legitimate” company of sorts, but has nefarious intentions in terms of charging you for something you could have gotten for free, charging you for something you don’t need, or charging you much more than necessary for something that may or may not be useful.
The best option for dealing with this sort of scammer is to contact the Competition Bureau of Canada. Petryshyn said, “they deal with companies that are deceiving clients.”
As with other “viruses,” the “computer scam virus” has many different strains. Petryshyn said, “there’s a few potential possibilities that can occur as there’s a variety of anti-virus scams coming out.”
According to a release from the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC), “the virus scam has grown to epidemic proportions in Canada, now accounting for between 70 and 80 per cent of frauds reported daily to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre.”
“This dramatic increase means the scam is working – more and more Canadians are being targeted by the virus scam.”
“Allowing a third party to download software or remotely access your computer carries a number of serious risks.”
“Malicious software can be installed to capture sensitive data such as your online banking user names and passwords, bank account information and your personal identity information.”
“Your computer can also be converted to a bot-net, which means criminals can use it without your knowledge or participation. It can then be used to spam other people, spread viruses to your friends or overload computer networks.”
“Getting your credit card information is the second important part of the virus scam. Once a criminal has that information it can be used to make purchases without your consent.”
The CAFC also warns that “not all virus scams are conducted over the phone. Many CAFC callers report being scammed after responding to internet pop-up ads for anti-virus software.”
As for Microsoft, they do not cold call customers. An employee of Microsoft Ottawa pointed out that it would be almost impossible to do so because of the immense number of users all over the world.
For those who may have already given a scammer access to their computer, Petryshyn has some advice: “If you think somebody’s had access to your computer, I wouldn’t be going back on the Internet until I’ve gotten the problem solved. It’s like opening the door again.”
He advised that anti-virus and anti-spy programs do not check for peer-to-peer applications. For this, “you may need a technician to check your system.”
Peer-to-peer applications are those that give someone else remote access to your computer and files.
Petryshyn uses a house metaphor to explain the situation more clearly: allowing someone to install peer-to-peer software, giving them remote access to your computer, is basically the same as giving “the bad guy” a key to your back door. They can come in whenever they like, invited or not.
As for credit cards, Petryshyn advises checking with your bank or credit card company right away.
For questions, or to report a scam incident, contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre via email at email@example.com or via the telephone at 1-888-495-8501.
During a tragic situation along the St. Lawrence River near Cardinal that claimed the life of a diver, those on hand trying to help encountered difficulties with reaching the proper emergency services.
While some locals may be aware that occasionally their mobile phone calls are picked up by powerful towers on the American side of the border, those who do not live here, especially tourists enjoying the river, may not be aware of the issue.
Generally, the result is being billed for expensive and unexpected roaming charges, but in an emergency situation the impact is much greater.
“We rely on 911 for help in an emergency and we pay for it on our phone bills, but in reality, when we are near the St. Lawrence River, in some places the only reliable access to 911 is a land line,” noted Hugh Hamilton of South Mountain.
Hamilton, after the recent diving accident at Cardinal, has been doing what he can to make as many people, including local politicians aware of this serious and important issue.
“Because of this anomaly, and three 911 calls later, we did not get timely assistance for a diver who died on Tuesday April 23,” he said. “In the middle of an emergency, when you get an operator that doesn’t know where Cardinal, Ontario is, does it occur to you that you have reached American 911? No. You are too busy doing CPR.”
“When Canadian 911 got the message, they were excellent and efficient … but it was that horrible gap between sending three calls out, and Canadian emergency services receiving the calls. This is a major concern.”
Hamilton implores everyone to take action and do something to raise awareness of this issue so that something will be done to fix this serious problem.
“Let the powers be know you want the safety net you are paying for,” said Hamilton, who encourages constituents of Leeds and Grenville and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry to contact their MPPs, Steve Clark and Jim McDonell. He also suggests phoning your movbile phone provider to let them know, no matter what, a 911 call made in Canada must reach Canada.”
Jacqueline Michelis, Bell spokesperson, confirmed that wireless calls are routed through the nearest cell site with the strongest signal.
“On the border, Canadian calls will occasionally be picked up by a U.S. cell site (and vice versa) but it is a rare situation, and all wireless carriers on both sides of the border configure their sites to reduce this possibility,” she said.
However, this possibility can increase when calls are made from the river.
According to the Bell spokesperson, Public Safety Awareness Points handle all 911 calls.
“Border municipalities can establish agreements with nearby U.S.-based PSAPs to transfer 911 calls if this situation occurs,” she said.
“This is a serious issue,” said Michael Jiggins, executive assistant to MPP Steve Clark.
“We are now working with industry experts to see if there is something we can do to resolve the problem. Mr. Clark recognizes this concern and is taking it very seriously,” he added.
According to Jiggins, Clark has been in contact with Jim McDonell’s office regarding upcoming meetings where they plan to get together with experts who know how to come up with a solution.
IROQUOIS – The suicide rate in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Prescott-Russell is twice the provincial average. That is the reason the local Canadian Mental Health Agency and people like Augusta Waddell, believe so strongly in the importance of mental health promotion in schools.
Waddell’s late son suffered from mental health issues and since his loss, Waddell has tirelessly worked toward improving mental health locally, by making the community more aware of the help and resources that are available. Also, she has been part of fundraising initiatives that have helped bring funds and awareness to programs that she believes are important to have locally.
Joanne Ledoux-Moshonas, manager of mental health promotions with the local mental health agency, accepted a cheque November 1, from Augusta Waddell and Margaret Swerdfeger, who organized a Halloween dance and silent auction fundraiser. The well-supported event raised $6,166.
“The event was great,” said Waddell. “The support was amazing.”
Swerdfeger, said that the silent auction featured some wonderful items, generously donated by both individuals and business, not only locally but from across the region.
“People were very supportive of the auction, but what was remarkable, was that people who came to the event and supported the auction, often just wrote a cheque to donate to the cause too,” said Swerdfeger. “People are just so generous.”
Ledoux-Moshonas was overwhelmed by the amount of money raised through this one time event.
The CMHA’s Mental Health Promotion in Schools program is not at all supported through government funding, so all of the funds that make this program which costs about $175,000 to operate annually, comes through fundraising and donations.
Mental Health Promotion in Schools is a program that the CMHA strives to take to every school, especially intermediate and high schools.
The five day program works on day one to dispel myths, teaches about the various disorders on day two and day three focuses on suicide prevention.
“That is an important focus,” said Ledoux-Moshonas, adding that the suicide rate in this area is twice that of the provincial average.
Day four educates students on stress management and the supports that are available to help and day five features a guest speaker who shares a personal experience with mental illness.
The CMHA works in the schools to try and alleviate some of the stigma surrounding mental health. Stigma continues to be a huge problem for people living with mental illness.
This stigma can hinder those with mental illness and their families from reaching out for the help they need.
Waddell sees this stigma as a barrier for the family support group sessions that she has organized to take place once a month in Iroquois. While people will stop her on the street for a chat, she still has yet to have people come to the family support group sessions.
“People want to talk, but they won’t come, because they are embarrassed. Often they are frustrated by the system, and if they would come out, we could share our experiences and help. Talking about it makes life easier,” said Waddell.
She will continue to be at the Iroquois Civic Centre at 6 p.m., the third Tuesday of every month, for anyone who needs the family support group. Anyone interested or with questions can email Augusta directly at firstname.lastname@example.org