An international phone scam that has plagued Wellington residents has turned up in Tauranga, with callers attempting to manipulate people into giving them access to their home computers.
Police have issued a nationwide warning to people about the scam, which involves a caller claiming to be from Microsoft and offering help to remove a virus.
The police central communications centre has received about 90 calls from Wellington residents who have reported being contacted by the scammers.
Retired Katikati man John O'Neill received a "Microsoft" phone call several days ago. He said he probably would have fallen for the scam if he had not been warned beforehand.
Mr O'Neill had earlier received an email from daughter-in-law Jodie O'Neill explaining the call was a scam.
"Then blow me down, about two days later I got the same [scam] phone call," Mr O'Neill said.
The female caller said they were alerted to a virus on his computer which had come through other people's emails.
"She wanted me to turn my computer on ... if I went on to a website she gave me the address for, she would talk me through it. She wanted me to go into it right there and then."
Wary, Mr O'Neill said he was not near his computer and suggested the caller call back at 6pm. He did not hear from her again.
Ms O'Neill said she originally emailed everyone in her address book because "it was a very good scam".
The men she spoke to, who had "very heavy" Indian accents but names like Brandon, told her to open her computer's task manager which then showed her a list of errors on her computer.
"It looked horrific. I had all these things that looked like errors. I thought I was really in trouble."
In reality, Ms O'Neill's computer was fine. She was reading computer history from over the six years she owned it.
"It's just awful. They are playing people that don't necessarily know about their computers, that's 80 per cent of the population.
"You get a little old lady that doesn't know anything about her computer and show her the task manager... she'll pay the money because she won't know any different," she said.
Ms O'Neill's anti-virus software would not allow her to access the www.logmein123.com website the callers were asking her to subscribe to.
Already, an online Microsoft forum titled Microsoft Answers has been inundated with complaints from people in the United Kingdom, America and Australia.
All have a similar story - callers have been known to offer names, employee badge numbers and phone numbers - all as part of the scam.
Microsoft responded by saying these calls were a scam and nothing to do with their company.
New Zealand Police warn anyone who receives a call of this nature to hang up immediately.
The scam has been reported to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
For more information, see www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/scam-news/scam-alert-28