Police chief warns of new cyber scam

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL — Police Chief Norman Shiflett issued a warning Friday that his department has been fielding fresh reports of computer-based scams targeting town residents.

Shiflett said the latest in a series of such schemes involves notifying a potential victim by telephone or email that a malware virus is affecting the person’s computer. The unsuspecting person is then provided with a website address that is held out as a fix for the virus.

The target of the scam then reaches the phony website, which allows scammers to install software that is used to obtain usernames and passwords for online banking accounts and other data with closely guarded personal information.

“The cybercriminals can also change the settings on a person’s computer remotely to leave the computer vulnerable to further attacks,” Shiflett said in a news release.

In an interview, Shiflett said police have a hard time tracking down cybercriminals.

“They’ll leave a number, and you call it back, and the number is out of service basically,” Shiflett said, adding that the elderly appear to have been the targets of the most recent scheme.

He urged people never to allow third parties to gain control of a computer “unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a company with which you are already a customer. Also, never purchase any software or services over the phone or from an unsolicited email, and never provide your financial information or credit card to anyone over the phone or on a website.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com