Thieves using pandemic to take advantage of people working from home, police say

Thieves using pandemic to take advantage of people working from home, police say

As more people work from home during the pandemic, police and cybersecurity experts say thieves are taking advantage.

In Roswell, police told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik they’re investigating two separate thefts totaling more than $30,000.

“We don’t usually see this type of incident,” said department spokesman Sean Thompson.

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In both cases, Thompson said someone contacted the victims claiming to be from tech support with Microsoft, offering to help clean up viruses on their computers.

“He just required that she allow remote access into her computer, which she granted him,” Thompson said. “She then gave him about $15,000 in Google Play cards before she realized it was a scam.”

In a second case that happened just days later, Thompson said the victim handed over credit card information and the suspects racked up big bills but never did any work.

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“It’s very difficult to track down who the suspect is because a lot (of) times they’re in a completely different state, or a different country,” Thompson said.

Cybersecurity expert Tony Uceda Velez told Petchenik that with many people working from home, thieves have found a new target.

“The home office network, the home office Wi-Fi, (and) the home office laptop,” he said.

Uceda Velez, CEO of VerSprite, said he’s hearing of cyberextortion incidents where the thieves hold people’s files hostage until they pay up.

“Getting access to financial information that allows them to potentially commit financial fraud is really hot right now,” he said.

Uceda Velez reminds consumers that Microsoft and Apple won’t solicit business this way, and he advises people to beef up their internet security.

“If you’re using online services make sure you’ve enabled multi-factor authentication,” he said.

He also advises consumers to use a password vault that will store all of their important passwords in one place securely.

“We see the ongoing threat of extortion,” he said of the current climate.

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