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 Washington, DC—As computers continue to become more integral to our daily lives, they are increasingly being used as a platform by scammers to defraud consumers, including seniors. The Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, are scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday, October 21 titled, “Virtual Victims:  When Computer Tech Support Becomes a Scam.” Mr. Frank Schiller, a Peaks Island, Maine resident, will testify about how he lost more than $1,300 to a con artist through this scam.
      These scams involve tricking individuals of all ages who own a computer into needlessly paying hundreds of dollars and giving out their private information in exchange for fraudulent tech support service. There are multiple variations of this scam in which con artists randomly call potential victims pretending to be associated with a well-known company, such as Microsoft, Apple, or Dell. According to Microsoft, these types of computer tech scams cost victims an estimated $1.5 billion a year.
      As part of its continuing focus on scams that aim at seniors, the Committee will examine the growth and surprising success rate of these scams.  The hearing will also look into variations of the scam including alarming onscreen “pop up” messages, and tactics scammers use to install malicious software that can hold a computer hostage or capture sensitive personal data like online banking user names and passwords. The Committee will also examine efforts by law enforcement and the tech industry to stop these scams.
      In addition to Mr. Schiller, witnesses for Wednesday’s hearing will include: David Finn, the Executive Director of Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in Redmond, Washington; Lois Greisman,Associate Director of the Division of Marketing Practices, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection in Washington, DC; and Lew Polivick, Deputy Director for Legal Services of Southern Missouri (LSSM) in Charleston, MO. 

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