Clarence Center, NY -- A WNY man contacted our tech tip line after one of his neighbors became the victim of a phone tech support scam.
Phone tech support scammers randomly call people and claim to be able to fix your computer. The problem is that there is nothing even wrong with your computer until the caller hacks into it and gets control of your personal information.
"My phone rings, and I have caller ID, and I usually monitor that. No number showed up. And, that should have been a red flag, but I answered it," says Jerry Leopold of Clarence Center.
Leopold just became the victim of a tech support phone scam.
"This guy, on the phone, identified himself as a Microsoft employee said that he received a message saying I had errors on my computer," says Leopold.
"Did you have errors on your computer?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.
"Actually, he showed me that," explained Leopold.
The cybercriminal told Leopold to turn on his computer. Thinking the caller was from Microsoft, Leopold did it.
"He asked me for the ID number. And, I gave it to him, and then there was a password next to it, but it was a four digit number, and he said, what's the password next to it? And, I said wait a minute, how do I know you're not a hacker?" says Leopold.
"So you called him out on it," said Dudzik.
"I called him out on it, and he said hackers don't call you on the phone, they get right into your computer," said Leopold.
Then, Leopold gave the man his four digit code.
"My cursor started moving around on my computer, and I wasn't touching the mouse, so then he brought up 1,921 errors magically appear on my computer," said Leopold.
"Do you know at this point that he has control of the computer?" asked Dudzik.
"When I seen the cursor moving around, I seen that," says Leopold.
What happened next threw up a big red flag for Leopold. The man wanted money. A screen popped up telling Leopold he'd have to pay up to $350 for a new "Microsoft certificate."
When he refused to turn over his credit card information, the caller refused to give him back control of his computer.
"I pay bills online. I pay my credit card online with my bank account, so I have a lot of information inside of that computer," he says.
According to Microsoft, anyone cold calling you claiming to work for them is a scammer. Microsoft says you should never give control of your computer to a third party unless you trust the person. And, never provide credit card or financial information.
"I mean, I kind of feel like a victim and a fool for being allowed to have that gone as far as it did, but I don't want to see it happen to anyone else," says Leopold.
In July, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about this exact same scam.
Leopold still can't use his computer. So, he called his neighbor, who owns a web solutions company. His neighbor told him not to turn his computer back on until he can take a look at it.
The computer expert told us it is the most brazen scam he has ever heard of.