May 19, 2022

WATERLOO — Violet Horton is struck by how smooth the scammer was.

“No pressure, very obliging, very pleasant,” Horton, a Waterloo resident, said Friday. “She was very disarming.”

Their paths crossed earlier in the week when Horton, 91, fell victim to a tech support scheme that preys on unsuspecting internet users.

With the help of her children, she’s still trying to determine whether any damage was done. But Horton wants to share her story as a cautionary tale to others.

“Do not open anything on your computer that you do not know personally to be real,” she said. “Call a friend, call somebody who knows. You can’t blindly do what I did.”

After playing online bridge, Horton went looking for a recipe and found her computer screen taken over by pop-ups warning of a problem with her connection.

At the bottom was a Windows logo and a 1-800 number, purportedly for Microsoft support. It all looked authentic.

“I made the mistake of calling that number,” said Horton, a retired teacher and realtor. “I got a very pleasant lady who offered me all kinds of help.”

Supposedly based in New Jersey and working for “Global Support,” the fraudster encouraged Horton to follow a series of instructions. An uncertain Horton asked questions; the woman asked if she wanted to call her son to be sure.

“That just sort of convinces you that they must be legit.”

Before she knew it, the woman had remote access to her computer. Protecting it would require a $699 subscription,…

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