"Beware of Another Computer Scam"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, February 14, 2014

A well-read author once wrote, “The world is flat.” His analysis, which filled an entire book, took hold. His statement is popular and widely used by others because it is true.

It’s true because many goods are traded worldwide. True because many products, once only made in the U.S., are now made overseas and some name brands are even copied.

To further confuse the matter, many U.S. companies have turned to the other side of the world for their manufacturing needs.

Some companies provide a notice in very small letters stating the place of production. Others print the same old product lines on the packaging with little or no acknowledgment of its foreign origin.

I believe products made overseas should have to state such on each item in bold letters. Many of us are purchasing goods we think were made in the U.S. In reality, they are made to be sold here by a U.S. outlet but manufactured overseas thus providing a greater profit. The company holding the trade name has reduced its overhead with poorly paid and in some cases poorly trained foreign workers. They have denied U.S. workers employment. Yes, the foreign made products may be cheaper but they may not even contain the same elements.

I recognize many families must shop by price alone just to stretch their dollar. At the same time, many others would pay the few cents additional to support U.S. workers. When you make note of all those whose jobs were lost to foreign manufacturers a realization sinks in. We are paying that few cents saved many times over in additional taxes to cover unemployment pay-outs and welfare assistance.

If you’re a viewer of Shark Tank you have heard “Mr. Wonderful” suggest persons seeking financial help need to have their products sent overseas for manufacturing. He insists they will gain a larger profit by doing so. The suggestion is so pervasive that everyone just assumes that is what must be done.

Changes over the years seem to have completely taken over the electronic industry. Companies are sharing their customer information with foreign companies, authorizing them to represent specific products. Because of this, they are actually promoting scammers and hackers.

I had an ugly incident this past week that I want to share with my readers in the hope they may be alerted and avoid it happening to them. It’s a new scam originating somewhere overseas. My wife had a problem with our computer and it involved Microsoft on our Windows Live Mail e-mail program. A pop up said a “clean up” was occurring and stand by. All of our desktop programs soon disappeared but the operating ones remained. We called our IT person who responded immediately and he was able to recover our programs and shut the hacker down.

A few days later she received a call and had trouble understanding the caller, but they announced they were calling on behalf of Microsoft. She gave me the phone explaining how difficult it was to understand the person. A man with a very heavy accent advised he was calling to warn me that my computer was about to fail completely. He said he was authorized by Microsoft to enter my computer and fix the problem and all he needed was my authorization to bill for his services.

When I asked how he knew that my computer had a problem, he said Microsoft told him. I inquired what the cost would be and he quoted from $199 to $399.

He would not know the total amount until I let him into my computer. When I asked what he would do, he said he would stop the trouble before it began. I explained I was not familiar with his technical terms and he became very impatient saying, “You are stupid. Just let me into your computer.” When I refused he began cussing me and said I should go back to high school. He wanted me to hang up, which I refused to do. He repeatedly said, “OK just hang up,” but he would not disconnect the call from his end. I laid the phone down and the call eventually terminated. When I attempted to learn the number using *69 an operator said the call was from an unlisted number that was untraceable.

Pat called a Microsoft corporate office in our area and they said they had received numerous complaints regarding the scam. They went on to say their company was not involved in any way. There was little they could do to trace the origin of the calls either. But if I had problems with my computer, they would be happy to work with us on correcting them. This conversation restored my confidence in Microsoft and I plan to send over a detailed description of the event to the corporate person we contacted.

My neighbor had a similar experience. She paid $198 to resolve her problem because she urgently needed to access her e-mail. Because she did not resist as I did, she did not get cussed out or threatened.

Readers beware! As I continue to research this event, I’m finding more and more people are experiencing it. My IT person said as he visits his customers he is encountering the issue daily.

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