Placer County residents warned of computer software refund scam

The Placer County Sheriff's Office is warning computer users of a scam involving virus protection software and refunds.

County residents recently have reported being victims of the scam, in which they lost thousands of dollars after being lured into purchasing retail store gift cards, according to a Sheriff's Office news release..

One victim responded to a pop-up from "Microsoft Vender" that stated her computer had a virus. The woman clicked on the link and purchased lifetime virus protection. When she called the company to complain about more pop-ups on her computer, the company agreed to remove the software and refund her money. While "fixing" the problem remotely, however, the suspect transferred money between the woman's bank accounts, causing her to think her money had been refunded, the news release said

But the victim was then told that the company had refunded too much money and that she owed the company money. The woman was told to purchase a Walmart gift card and then to call with the gift card information. She did so and lost a total of $3,000, the news release said.

Another victim was told that he would receive a $500 refund for malware software service that he recently had signed up to receive. The suspect told the victim that the company had accidentally refunded too much money and deceived him into purchasing a $2,000 Target gift card, according to the news release.

Sheriff's officials advise people who find themselves in such situations not to give the caller any personal or financial information and not to allow anyone remote access to their computer. Authorities urge computer users to never click on pop-up adds, and to hang up on phone calls requesting computer access or the purchase of gift cards as part of a financial transaction.

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