Gardaí have issued a warning to computer users that they should immediately hang up the telephone on any person with an Indian or Pakistani accent offering to clear their computer of viruses — even if their caller ID shows they are phoning from an Irish number.
The warning was issued after gardaí in North Cork received numerous complaints about the hackers, who claimed to be working for Microsoft Windows.
They were ringing Irish telephones from an 061 number, which made unsuspecting people think they were genuine.
The hackers try to trick the computer user into downloading what they say is an anti-virus program, free of charge. However, the program searches for personal details such as bank account numbers which the hackers can use to clean out accounts.
Superintendent Pat McCarthy, who is leading the garda investigation, said the Computer Crime Unit at Garda Headquarters in Dublin was endeavouring to shut down that and other Irish numbers that the hackers were using.
The fraudsters are using low-cost internet telephone calling technology similar to Skype to connect to their Irish base number, from which they make the calls.
Supt McCarthy said his detectives had phoned the hackers to warn them that they knew what they were up to.
“The man on the end of the phone threatened to bomb our Garda station. These are ruthless people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. They are not ringing for the good of your health,” he said.
It is believed the hackers are making thousands of calls to Irish computer users every day in an effort to break into their bank accounts.
“There will be computer users out there who will think these people are genuine, but they are not. If people get these calls they should hang up straight away and ring their local Garda station.
“Under no circumstances should they download anything from them,” Supt McCarthy added.