CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - "Invasive" and "personal."
Those are the words one man describes a business interaction gone wrong after seeking help about his internet service.
Parker Green and his sister were having trouble connecting to their internet – so they decided to look up tech support for Netgear on Google.
One of the sites ended up being a scam. They called the number listed and a man on the phone asked them to connect their computer to the router with an Ethernet cable.
"You could see him moving a bunch of stuff around like the mouse and opening up applications," Green said.
According to Green, the man on the phone claimed he found a virus – but to fix it they would have to pay up.
"For $200 we would have a year of virus-free protection and for $350 we could have it for two years."
Luckily they didn't fall for the scam.
A representative with NETGEAR said they are aware of this issue of fraud sites.
The NETGEAR support phone number is 1-888-638-4327.
The representative added when you Google "NETGEAR support phone number," they have the first couple of entries on the first page of search results, but they quickly devolve to fraudsters. NETGEAR said their legal team works to shut these down as quickly as possible using external counsel, but the fraudsters often just change their names and phone numbers and continue doing business.
According to Jamey Mellis, a computer technician with Software Solutions, they see these types of scams almost on a daily basis.
"When people are connected to the internet, it really doesn't matter whether it's an Ethernet cable or wireless, these folks can download software to get access to their computer. Usually when they get access, they will download malware," Mellis said.
Mellis adds it doesn't matter which brand of computer you have – any of them are susceptible. It's important to note if there IS a problem or virus with your software, you'll get a message from your antivirus software, not a phone call.
But this is happening more and more.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs tracks monetary losses in two amounts: "actual" is money consumers reported they sent to scammers.
The "potential" amount is where consumer fortunately didn't send any money, but are reporting the amount scammers asked for.
Most of the scams are perpetuated with a call to the consumers informing them they have a virus on their computer.
A less commonly reported variation is consumer clicks on a pop-up box with the same "warning" that they have a virus. In both scenarios, consumers often pay for alleged repairs and/or provide the scammer with remote access to their computer (and any sensitive information stored on it!).
During the period of January 1, 2016 through April 17, 2017 – 77 Tech scams reported; $2,539 in Potential Losses $16,518 in Actual Losses CY 2016: 65 tech scams reported; $2,189 in Potential Losses; $8,618 in Actual Losses CY 2017 (through 4/17): 12 tech scams reported; $350 in Potential Losses, $7,900 in Actual Losses
If you'd like to report a scam you can go to http://www.consumer.sc.gov/consumer/ComplaintInstructions/Pages/default.aspx