The Cloquet Police Department has received several similar complaints this week from residents reporting they received calls from people claiming to be from "Microsoft" and told the residents their computers have viruses on them and they needed to fix them. The scammer then requests remote access to the victim's computer. Once connected, the caller shows the victim [usually harmless] logs and events and tells them they are viruses and sends them a link to Western Union to pay for their services to fix the viruses.

Damage from these scams can occur in multiple ways. By taking control of the victim's computer, the caller can:

--Transfer information from the victim's computer, creating a possible breach in personal information and possible identify theft issues
--The scammer can inject their own viruses/malware/spyware onto the computer, creating a "zombie" computer or holding the computer "hostage" until an "unlocking fee" is paid
--damage, delete or destroy files on the computer that can affect the operability of the computer.

Microsoft reminds you that they do not make these types of calls and to treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Do not provide any personal information. (

Scammers will often times use money wires or transfers due to the difficulty or impossibility of canceling or recalling money once the transaction has been authorized and the money has been sent and it is often difficult to identify the recipients. These scam also frequently originate out of the United States, making investigations difficult.

If you receive one of these calls, you're asked to contact your local police department, the Better Business Bureau, the Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Minnesota Attorney Generals Office.