The nature of theft crimes changed forever when the Internet gave each of us access to literally all the information in the world, and at the same time created a vulnerability to be victimized in our own homes by someone sitting at a computer halfway around the world. More and more often, we are contacted by someone who has been victimized over the Internet and possibly had their personal financial information compromised.
This past week, Officer Troy Hokanson responded to a call from a resident that their home computer had possibly been compromised. When Officer Hokanson arrived at the location he learned that the resident had received a telephone call from a person who identified himself as being a Microsoft employee. The caller, who had an accent, said that the resident’s computer was compromised and he requested that the resident grant him remote access to fix the problem with the computer.
The resident asked some questions of the caller and granted the caller initial access to the computer. After the caller had been accessing the computer for some time, he then told the resident that there would be a charge for the service. The resident, who had become suspicious of the caller, told him that Microsoft did not charge for services and disconnected the computer. Unfortunately, there was no way to determine what information in the computer the caller might have stolen or accessed during the incident. The victim was provided with Identity Theft information by Officer Hokanson.
This is just one of the scams that cybercriminals use by saying they are from well-known companies, such as Microsoft in this case, to deceive the victim and facilitate the theft or fraud. Microsoft does not send unsolicited e-mails or make unsolicited telephone calls.
Detective Russ Helmueller said, “In these situations it is probably best just to hang up the phone or delete the message right away, if you are suspicious of the caller or person sending the message.” Oftentimes these theft scams on the Internet are perpetrated by criminals in foreign countries, making criminal investigation extremely difficult and successful prosecution, almost impossible.
WEEKLY LPD SNAPSHOT
Sampling of LPD activity for the week of May 30 to June 6, 2012
Traffic crashes: 16 Alarms: 27 Animal Calls: 46 Medical Emergency Calls: 33 Thefts: 22 Traffic Stops: 242
BICYCLE SAFETY HELMETS
We strongly support the idea of all bicyclists wearing bike safety helmets because over the years, our officers have responded to a number of bicycle crashes that resulted in serious injuries to the riders.
This week, Officer Shawn Fitzhenry and Sergeant Chad Hagen responded to a crash between two bicyclists riding together. Both riders were wearing bike helmets, but still sustained serious enough injuries to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but it was clear to the officers that the bike helmets prevented more serious injuries.