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September 6, 2012

COLUMBIA CITY — In the last month, fraud has become a prevalent topic in the area.
According to Columbia City Police Det. Chip Stephenson, several people in the area have fallen victim to a malicious computer virus.
“I talked to a guy from BE Comics & Computers (in Columbia City), who said he’s had eight or nine computers in the last few weeks that have had viruses,” Stephenson said. “People have been contacted via home phone with someone saying, ‘hey this is such-and-such with Microsoft. We need you to do an update for your computer.’”
Stephenson said the phone call came from this number: (510) 943-3040. After the caller walks the victim through the “update process”, a virus is put on the victim’s computer.
“More importantly, that virus is most likely working to get information off your computer about your bank accounts and personal information as well,” Stephenson said. “If you do any online banking or transactions, they have a possibility of getting that information with the virus.”
One problem with the virus is that it’s nearly untraceable, because in order to fix the computer, the entire hard drive must be wiped, also deleting any evidence of the crime.
“We haven’t been able to prove that they’ve gotten anyone’s information off the computers yet,” Stephenson said. “It’s hard to prove.”
The other type of fraud isn’t from an unknown caller, but typically by a relative or someone the person knows.
“Lately we’ve had frauds with relatives taking advantage of the elderly,” Stephenson said.
In the last month, the city has had multiple cases of fraud.
Stephenson will be holding an informational meeting for the public at the Senior Citizen Center Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. about scams and fraud.
“We want to inform the public on how to protect themselves,” Stephenson said.

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