Scammers Blackmailing Users Seeking Help for ‘Printer Error’ Messages

The U.K.’s Leamington Observer reports that scammers are taking control of users PCs and demanding money after users contact them when encountering “printer error” messages displayed by their printers.

The scammers are said to be taking control of users computers and demanding payments of hundreds of pounds to release them again.

U.K. Trading Standards officers say that “tens of thousands of users are falling victim to the con, which begin when they ask for help with a printer error.”

The fraudsters claim to offer “printer helplines” via fake online advertisements placed on Web-site search engines or on social-media Web sites.

According to the Leamington Observer:

“Users then allow scammers remote access to their computers, allowing them to steal information such as bank account details or demand money to hand back control.

They appear credible by claiming to have links with well-known computer and printer brands. In one case, they tried to charge a victim £700. Another user was told that their online identity had been corrupted and all their passwords had been stolen. The ‘fee’ to correct it was £200.”

Mike Andrews, lead co-ordinator of the U.K.’s National Trading Standards eCrime team, said the scam was “particularly dangerous because it encouraged victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord.”

Andrews said: “While victims expect they will receive help with their printer problems, they have in fact been lured into a trap, and find themselves at risk of losing money or important personal information and also have their computer security compromised.”

The Leamington Observers says that last year, there were more than 32,000 such cases of computer service fraud,  a 47 per cent rise since 2014.

Those seeking help with printers should contact the printer manufacturer at the manufacturer’s Web site.

U.K. users should visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 to report cases of fraud.

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