A COUPLE from Yate are warning residents in the area to “be on alert” after almost being scammed online.
Cherry, 70, and Geoffrey Reece, 73, were browsing the internet on Thursday, March 30 when their computer screen turned red and a number of Microsoft warning messages appeared.
A pop-up window informed them that their computer was in trouble and that they should immediately contact Microsoft, the developer of their computer software.
Cherry explained that the messages looked “extremely convincing”.
She said: “Even though we are in our seventies, we are very aware of scams online.
“But the warning signs that came on our computer looked so authentic that it had me fooled for a minute.”
Upon ringing a number displayed on screen, Cherry was put through to a man who used a reference number to remotely hack into the couple’s computer.
It was only when he told the couple that they needed to pay £160 to fix a “serious fault” that they became suspicious.
Geoff said: “We were immediately on our guard when he mentioned a payment.
“Cherry pretended that she needed to check with me first and we decided to hang up.
“We then stayed up well into the early hours of the morning changing our passwords and private information.”
The couple have since been in touch with a computer expert, who told them that they came close to being scammed.
They have been instructed not to use their computer until it can be checked to see if the scammers still have access.
Cherry said: “We googled the number that we phoned and found that it was linked to a scam number in India.
“We were lucky this time but someone else might not be.”
Cherry and Geoff’s near miss comes as Avon and Somerset Police launch a campaign to crack down on online crime.
Victims in Avon and Somerset lost nearly £1million over the space of six months, according to police figures, so officers are now teaming up with Get Safe Online to give people simple tips to protect themselves.
Kirstie Cogram, Avon and Somerset Police’s senior manager responsible for digital and cybercrime investigation, said: “Online crime is no new problem but it is one that is growing as more and more services move online.
“Prevention is far better than cure, and we’re hoping to show how how simple it can be to protect yourself from the most common types on cybercrime, including fraud, scams, and hacking.”
A pop-up shop will take place at Cabot Circus in Bristol on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 to give online safety tips to residents in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
The workshop is free to attend and will offer simple online safety tips such as setting a secure password, internet banking safely, setting parental controls to keep children safe online, and much more.