City of London Police have arrested four people in connected with computer service software fraud, in an investigation conducted with Microsoft.
The investigation focused on scammers pretending to be from Microsoft who call vulnerable people, tell them that there is a problem with their computer and offer to fix it for a fee.
If the scam is carried out successfully, the victim is fooled into granting remote access to their computer and providing payment details, after which the scammer does what scammers do and accesses the victim's bank account and makes off with large sums of money.
Microsoft and the City of London Police's work revealed that 3,504 computer software service fraud reports made to the UK's national fraud and cyber-reporting centre for the financial year 2016/17, with attributed losses of £20,698,859. The average loss suffered by victims is £600 and the average age of victims is 62.
While the report, which BT also muscled in on, concludes the most of the scam calls are placed in India, the probe has lead to the arrest of four Brits.
These include a 29-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman from Woking in Surrey, who were arrested on suspicion of fraud, both who have since been bailed. A 37-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were arrested in South Shields, Tyneside, on suspicion of fraud. Both were released pending further inquiries.
These arrests come just a week after two Brits were cuffed for conspiring to hack into Microsoft's network.
Hugh Milward, director of Corperate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft, said: "Realising that you've fallen victim to a scam is a horrible experience for anyone. Not just the loss of money but also the feeling that you've been tricked and that your personal information has been stolen.
"Unfortunately, the names of reputable companies, like Microsoft, are often used by criminals to lull victims into a false sense of security. That's why we partnered with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to track these people down and bring them to justice. It's a collaboration which can cohesively combat and investigate computer service fraud. Today's arrests are just the start."
Commander Dave Clark, City of London Police and National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, chipped in: "These arrests are just the beginning of our work, making the best use of specialist skills and expertise from Microsoft, local police forces and international partners to tackle a crime that often targets the most vulnerable in our society."
In loosely-related news, a post over on Reddit has detailed what happened when a fake IRS employee called a programmer, which probably wasn't a good idea. You can listen to the whole thing below. µ
Kicking Palantir off of AWS is among their demands, too
Rafaela Vasquez was watching The Voice at the time of the crash, new evidence shows
PUBG price slashed on Steam after selling more than 50 million copies - as daily player numbers plunge
Use the same password for every website? It might be time to change them all