by Dennis Dalman
Fortunately, red flags of warning popped up in Douglas Gravelle’s head when he received a certain phone call one afternoon recently.
The Sartell man was notified by a male voice on the phone that a virus was attacking his computer system. The man then told Gravelle to start up his computer and go to a certain website, enter requested information, and the caller’s company would rid Gravelle’s computer of the dangerous virus.
Red flags immediately began to wave. For one thing, the man who called could barely speak English. For another, Gravelle remembered how his own son and daughter-in-law were scammed via a sale made on computer a year ago. They were sent a check that was written in an amount of $2,800 over the amount for the item they sold. The person told them to send the amount of the accidental overpayment back. The Gravelles did so and were totally conned out of their money. That incident put Douglas Gravelle in a mode of utter skepticism when it comes to computer dealings.
After the man called, Gravelle called the Computer Renaissance Co. in St. Cloud. A service agent there told him, “Do NOT comply with that request.” It’s a scam, and they will take every bit of information Gravelle gives them and rip him off.
“I do my banking on the computer,” Gravelle said. “And I only send emails or get them from close friends. But because I do banking on it, I was leery right away.”
The man called Gravelle back and asked him again to go to the “help” website.
“Forget it!” he told the man and hung up the phone.
Wanting to warn others of the scam, Gravelle then emailed the Sartell Newsleader, requesting the newspaper do a story about it.
“And just the other day, I received an email saying I won some lottery in Canada,” he said. “I deleted it without opening it.”
Gravelle said his innate skepticism was molded by the fact he’s been around the world a time or two. He served in the U.S. Army for 21 years, including 20 months in Vietnam as a helicopter door gunner, as well as three tours in Germany and stateside in Washington and Virginia. Later, before retiring recently, he was employed as a guard at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility. Such widely based experiences in so many places can teach one to be leery of offers that seem to0 good to be true, Gravelle noted.
“I made up my mind never to be scammed,” he said. “I check with people before I do anything. And the best thing to do is always initiate any business with people you know and trust. Never give out personal information on the phone or on the computer when someone requests it. That’s the best advice I can give. Always double-check everything. And don’t open email messages unless you know for sure where they’re coming from. And if you do open one, and it says to click on a link within it, don’t!”
Gravelle said he is not the “computer savvy” type. After letting his grandchildren play games on his computer, he discovered their downloaded games had caused havoc with the system. He had to take the computer to Computer Renaissance, who fixed the problem and cleaned up the computer for about $100. He now considers Computer Renaissance his trouble-shooting informational lifeline.
Gravelle recommends to people that any time they suspect a computer scam, they should call a reputable computer business and chances are the employees will know right away what to do and not to do.