People in France are being warned against a ‘black computer screen’ scam being orchestrated by a network of cybercriminals based in Israel.
Millions of euros have already been extorted by the fake computer troubleshooters.
The scam begins with an internet user’s device being infected. Their screen turns black and a message appears urging them to contact an IT repair company.
A premium rate number is given, with victims who call being unknowingly connected to a call centre based in Israel.
The call centre worker is often courteous and offers to help free of charge by taking control of the impacted device.
In the end the screen turns back on, with the victim then offered antivirus software for €300, payable by credit card which is in fact pocketed by the scammers.
The scam has brought in millions of euros
The ‘black computer screen’ scam is a variant of computer troubleshooting fraud – this is when a victim is falsely told there is a problem with their computer that can be resolved for a fee.
The scam has proven successful with millions of euros having been extorted throughout Europe so far.
It is thought that the cybercriminals make thousands of attempts every day in the hope of finding new targets and according to investigators, one in 10 people are falling for their tactics.
The Paris cybercrime prosecutor's office, which has taken over all the cases, claims between 200 and 300 people work in this fake call centre.
Tips to avoid getting scammed
In the face of this growing threat, vigilance is required. A strong password is a first line of defence, while multi-factor authentication also makes it harder for scammers to proceed with their ploy.
If you are targeted and the message appears on your computer screen, you should disconnect from the internet as a priority.
Ignoring any phone contact is also important, especially if personal information is requested.
Also notify your bank immediately to block any suspicious payments or requests. It is also recommended to file a complaint and report the attack on the official cybermalveillance.gouv.fr site.
Look also to protect all your devices with an effective antivirus.