The problem with those Microsoft help desk phone scams? They work

Laurent Giret

Woman playing Xbox video games on an iPhone

If you ever receive a phone call from someone pretending to be Microsoft’s help desk, be very careful. Tech support scammers are apparently a thing, and they’re out to steal your money and personal data. Four of them were busted in the UK last year, and according to Dutch Police many of them operate in the Netherlands as well (via Dutch News)

In a police report (in Dutch language) published yesterday, Dutch police explained that a group of criminals pretending to be Microsoft employees made nearly 2,000 victims in the Netherlands last year. Unsurprisingly, 70% of them were over 50 years-old. Overall, the scammers stole €7 million from their victims, with one of them losing nothing less than €98,000.

The criminals stick to a simple strategy: they claim to work for the Microsoft help desk and tell their victims that there’s an issue with their computer. Then, they ask their prey to install a program which allows them to take control of the computer and ultimately blackmail their victims.

As the Dutch police explained, Microsoft will never call you directly if you didn’t request support from the company’s help desk beforehand. If that does happen to you, please hang up as soon as possible.