Hackers target Sparks man, gain access to his home computer
Criminals found a way to hack into people's computers and gain access to everything on them, right inside their home. The crooks targeted Sparks resident Tom McCabe.
"It makes me very angry," he said.
McCabe received a phone call just after the new year. The man on the line said he was from the Dell computer company and needed to install new updates to fix some issues with Microsoft's Windows 10.
"We're going through the computer, showing me all the problems that was really wrong with my computer. My computer is only one year old. He started to say 'I can fix this, I can fix this, we need to look at this and this,'" McCabe said.
The man on the phone wanted up to $800 to "fix" his computer.
"He said 'What about a credit card?' I said 'Oh, I'll do a check. Just send me a bill' and he said 'Try to put it on your printer, on your scanner and we'll scan it and we'll have it.' I said 'No, I really don't feel comfortable sending you money, I mean not knowing who you are, what company you are. I think this conversation is over with.'"
McCabe hung up the phone. Then made another call.
"I called Dell and said 'Has anybody called my house in the last five hours?' And they said 'Nobody has called your house in the last five hours,'" McCabe said. "That's when the Dell representative actually told me there was a scam."
Whatever the man did to McCabe's computer locked it up. The man could have had access to everything on it, but luckily McCabe doesn't use it for anything too personal.
Lauren Lee, a Dell spokeswoman tells News 4 in an e-mail: "We advise any individual who is suspicious of fraudulent activity to take immediate action, either by deleting emails from addresses they do not recognize or simply hanging up the phone if contacted with offers to fix their computer or request financial and other sensitive information. Unless a Dell customer signs up for our enhanced monitoring and support services, they will never receive an unsolicited call."
You can make a police report, but officers say crooks quickly move on, change phone numbers and they're almost impossible to track down.
"We want to get them and we will still do what we can but people just need to be aware that doing what we can very often will lead us just to a dead end," said Bob Harmon, spokesman for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
The people claiming they're Dell representatives have called McCabe several times.
"They called once this morning, twice yesterday and again on Wednesday," McCabe said.
He didn't give the callers any money, but he's still out some cash. He had to spend $239 for a new USB drive. McCabe then spent three hours with Dell resetting his passwords and software. His computer is back up and running.
"It's sad that there's people out there that are constantly trying to get into your pocket," McCabe said.