Hackers have found a new way to invade your computer by posing as online "tech support" operators.
The scam recently played out in the home office of Emery Emery, a Studio City editor who also runs an Apple computer repair and consulting company. He was working on a client's Mac laptop at the time.
"She says there's a problem with the computer and it's stuck. It won't move," Emery said.
On the screen, a pop-up window appeared, freezing the computer's browser, and advising the user to call "support for Apple" at the 800-number provided immediately, Emery said.
"There was no question that this was a scam to me right out of the gate."
Emery decided to set a trap.
"I pretended to be a victim. I pretended to not understand what was going on."
He called the number, and while recording the entire exchange, allowed the "support tech operator" to access the computer remotely.
Over the next several minutes, the "operator" asked questions about the number of devices connected to the computer, and made red "slash" marks to pinpoint supposed problems.
"As you can see sir, your network has been compromised," the "operator" could be heard saying. "Sir, someone is accessing your network from different locations."
The "operator" then offered a pricey solution.
"He offered to fix it right there in front of my eyes for $599.99," Emery said. "They wanted $600 dollars to fix something that wasn't a problem."
Emery hung up, then contacted the NBC4 I-Team, hoping Consumer Investigator Randy Mac could provide a warning to other viewers.
The NBC4 I-Team reached out to Apple, but the company declined to comment on the incident.
Similar "hack attacks" involving Microsoft computers have been reported, in which users have received phone calls from alleged "tech support" employees who say their computer needs fixing.
Apple repair expert Emery had advice for any computer owner.
"If a warning ever pops up on your computer that says you have a problem, call this number or download this program, you have just come across a scam," he said. "Nothing happens like that normally."