GC woman receives phone call in potential computer scam

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — A Glenwood City resident would like the public to be aware of a potential computer scam after receiving a suspicious phone call last week.

Bobby Berends was at home October 29 when a man who identified himself as officer Charlie Williams called and said he represented a security firm based in Waco, Texas.

She said the man told her a laptop in her home was interfering with operations of computers at his company, and she needed to check it and call him back immediately.

The caller also informed Berends he would “blow up” her IP address – rendering it inoperable – and take a cyber action against her if she did not do as requested.

Berends said the caller sounded suspicious, so she hung up on him, only to be contacted again moments later. This time, the caller sounded upset, and demanded to know why Berends disconnected the previous call.

“I told him I wasn’t interested in speaking with him, and hung up again,” she later said.

While the threat made to Berends’ did not directly include any financial concerns, she took the precaution of locking her bank accounts, and tried to contact the police about the issue.

“I called the police, but I couldn’t get an answer,” she explained. “And it wasn’t emergency enough to call the emergency number.”

The Tribune Press Reporter contacted both Glenwood City Police Chief Robert Darwin and St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jeff Klatt to determine if any reports had been made regarding similar calls, or if there were any notices on file of scams matching what Berends described.

Neither department had any notices or any regarding the circumstances the Glenwood City woman detailed.

The Tribune conducted a Google search of the phone number Berends was given to call once she had turned on her laptop, and discovered between 15 and 20 instances of people being called with the same information and threats since October 29.

Klatt indicated the incident sounds like a variation of other computer scams in circulation.

“As far as I know, no one can ‘blow up’ an IP address, and as for her computer interfering with their operations, a small computer is not going to interfere with a major company unless she is trying to hack into their system,” he said. “And she sure would not be getting a phone call from the police (about that), more like a visit in person.”

Klatt also encouraged anyone who has received the same phone call, or one similar, to contact St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at 715-386-4701 to report it.