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January 11, 2013

Police warn residents of phone scam

Aimed at gaining computer access; caller seeks remote connection to fix 'error messages'

HAVERHILL — Police are warning residents about a phone scam that appears designed for a hacker to gain access to residents’ computers.

Police said they have received several calls from residents asking if the unsolicited calls received at Haverhill homes were legitimate or not.

Police said it is a scam and people receiving the calls should not cooperate with the caller.

This is the latest in a series of phone scams to hit the Haverhill area in the last few years. They included callers saying they are from a local bank that needs customers’ account numbers due to a mixup.

In the latest scam, police said a caller claims that your computer is sending out error messages from its email and that he can fix the problem if you give him access to your computer. Detective Capt. Alan Ratte said the caller asks people to allow remote access to their computers so he can correct the problem, but in reality the caller is up to no good.

“By providing the scammer with information, access can be gained to your computer, personal information can be extracted and used in identity theft and viruses can be sent to your computer,” Ratte said.

One resident told police he was just about to give the caller the information he was requesting, and then realized it was a scam.

Ratte said he was at his mother’s home when he received a call from the scammer. He said the voice was that of a man with a foreign accent.

“I spoke to this individual myself and when I told him I didn’t have a computer he hung up,” Ratte said. “The caller ID shows a number of 212-456-7890 and if you call that number it is unassigned.

“Every day there is a new scammer out there,” Ratte said.

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