More Windows 10 users will be well aware of the deluge of online threats on their PCs, but scammers are now trying a new tactic that can expose PC owners to a huge credit card bill. Instead of the usual data-stealing malware distributed through email attachments or fake websites, hackers are now mailing physical packages to consumers.
Once opened, victims will find what appears to be an official copy of Microsoft Expensive Office Professional Plus software that even includes a license code and branded USB drive.
This bundle usually costs over £400 and it’s easy to see why those who receive the freebie will be tempted to start using it. However, this is just an elaborate scam, with anyone plugging the dongle into their PC soon seeing a warning notification that their device contains malware.
A phone number for Microsoft’s helpline is also posted with users urged to call the hotline as soon as possible. Although everything looks real, callers are actually routed to a fake representative who claims to resolve issues for a fee.
If a victim agrees, the agent then takes control of their PC remotely and removes the so-called malware once payment is made.
The elaborate scam, which Sky News reported for the first time, can seriously shell out consumers.
Microsoft has since confirmed the attacks are taking place and the company told Sky it has now launched an internal investigation into the suspicious packages.
“Microsoft is committed to helping protect our customers. We are taking appropriate steps to remove any suspected unlicensed or counterfeit products from the market and to hold those who target our customers accountable,” a spokesperson said.
“We want to reassure all users of our software and products that Microsoft will never send you unsolicited packages or contact you out of the blue for any reason.”
With so many people aware of online threats, hackers are clearly trying new tactics to steal money and it’s essential not to be tempted to install software that comes through your front door unless you ordered it from an official store.
Speaking about the attack, Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor at ESET, said: “This is a very clever but simple scam that has the potential to trick several people into giving up access to their computer without Want it. The effort that has gone into manufacturing these counterfeit products proves how far cyber criminals are willing to go to get their hands on computers and scam people out of money.
“If you ever receive a product in the mail with a USB drive, stop and think about why you received it and if you didn’t order it, keep it away from your computer.”
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