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CBS2 Exclusive: Phone Scammers Impersonate Midtown Computer Help Business

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new phone scam has even experts stumped on how to stop it.

As CBS2's Reena Roy reported exclusively Tuesday, the scam involves hackers hurting legitimate businesses and conning people out of their money.

New York Computer Help in Midtown has had a big customer base for the past 20 years. But when phones started ringing off the hook recently, owner Joe Silverman knew something was up.

He was forced to apologize to hundreds of angry people from across the country, who have gotten calls from what appears to be the tech company – but on the other end of the line is actually a spammer using the business' exact name and number.

The mysterious hacker promises to fix people's computers if they hand over credit card and password information.

"It's actually a new type of hack, or we kind of call it a phone hijacking," Silverman said. "On the caller ID when they call out to these victims, it'll show our name -- New York Computer Help -- our phone number."

Silverman said he has contacted police and his phone company for help, but the high-tech software used by the hacker makes it nearly impossible to stop.
"We're worried about our reputation, our credibility, and everything we stand for," he said.

If computer experts cannot even fix the problem, you know it's a tough one. Unfortunately, IT specialists said there is not much you can do to prevent it from happening.

"To be honest, I don't know how to protect against this," said IT specialist David Whitlach. "I mean, if we could, we would here."

But as the unsuspecting person getting the call, it is important to stay vigilant.

"Make sure you know who's calling you. Don't just believe them. Make sure you're not giving out your personal information, and make sure you're not giving access to your computer to just someone who's calling you," Whitlach said.

In the meantime, employees will continue doing as much damage control as possible to keep their small business alive.

The business owner said changing his number is not an option. He has had the same number, along with a loyal client base, for nearly two decades.

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