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Most Windows 10 users will be well aware of the barrage of online threats to their PCs but scammers are now trying a new tactic which can leave PC owners facing a huge credit card bill. Instead of the usual data-stealing malware distributed by email attachments or fake websites, hackers are now sending out physical packages to consumers in the post.
Once opened, victims will find what appears to be an official copy of Microsoft’s expensive Office Professional Plus software which even includes a license code and branded USB stick.
This package usually costs over £400 and it’s easy to see why those who receive the gift will be tempted to start using it. However, this is simply an elaborate scam with anyone plugging the dongle into their PC soon seeing a warning notification saying their device contains malicious software.
A telephone number for Microsoft’s support line is also displayed with users urged to call the hotline as soon as possible. Although it all looks real, callers are actually put through to a fake representative who claims they fix the problems for a fee.
If a victim agrees, the agent then takes over their PC remotely and removes the so-called malware once payment has been made.
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The elaborate scam, which Sky News first reported, can leave consumers seriously out of pocket.
Microsoft has since confirmed that these attacks are taking place with the company telling Sky that it has now launched an internal investigation into the suspect packages.
“Microsoft is committed to helping protect our customers. We take appropriate action to remove any suspected unlicensed or counterfeit products from the market and to hold those targeting our customers accountable,” a spokesperson said.
“We’d like to reassure all users of our software and products that Microsoft will never send you unsolicited packages and will never contact you out of the blue for any reason.”
With so many people now wise to online threats hackers are clearly trying new tactics to steal money and it’s vital not to be tempted to install any software that comes through your front door unless you have ordered it from an official store.
Speaking about the attack, Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor at ESET, said: “This is a very clever yet straightforward scam that has the potential of conning multiple people into handing over access to their computer unwittingly. The effort that has gone into the manufacturing of these fake products proves the extent cybercriminals are willing to go to get their hands on computers and con people out of money.
“If you ever receive a product in the post with a USB, stop and think why you have received it and if you didn’t order it, keep it away from your computer.”
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