Cold callers pretending to be Microsoft's support service have targeted Britons with a new scam.
According to an investigation conducted by The Guardian, people receive a call on their home phone line from someone with an Indian accent, are quoted their name and address before being told that their PC is infested with viruses that could irreparably damage their files.
The scammers say: "I'm calling for Microsoft. We've had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer."
The unsuspecting victims are then directed to a website and asked to download a program called "Windows Event Viewer", which displays a long list of viruses that have been 'infecting' the computer.
Users are then asked to download software which grants the caller the remote access to the user's computer, allowing the scammers to pretend to install fixes for the fake viruses, before charging £185 for "subscription" to the "preventative service".
The Guardian has learned from a source that the call centres have operating since 2008 out of the Indian city of Kolkata, and are run by a man from Kota, Rajasthan.
In a statement on the Microsoft website, the company says: "Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer."
"If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls."