A CRIMINAL cell is targeting vulnerable people living on the Fraser Coast, stealing cash, credit card details and personal information.
Dubbed the 'Microsoft scam', criminals are phoning victims claiming their computer software is out of date and causing errors.
A young Hervey Bay mum was the latest victim manipulated by fraudsters.
She said the attack had left her feeling violated, hurt and embarrassed.
Wanting to remain anonymous she asked the Chronicle to reveal her story in a bid to warn others.
She said a man phoned her one afternoon and said her Microsoft software was out of date.
"He showed me websites which ran a test on my computer and displayed errors," she said.
"He told me if I paid $299 my software would be upgraded - looking back all the signs were there but I was busy cooking dinner and bathing kids - it seemed legitimate."
The scam was elaborate and well-planned.
The unsuspecting mum was transferred between operators, including an Indian call centre, which obtained her credit card details and processed a payment.
While the mum was on the phone her computer was hacked, her email account accessed and bank details possibly stolen.
Alan Purvis, owner of computer store Alan's Technical Services, said the Hervey Bay mother was one of many people living in the region the group had scammed.
"It's been happening for about three years but in the Fraser Coast it has really accelerated in the past 12 months," Mr Purvis said.
"They use programs that won't be detected by antivirus and they are very knowledgeable. I have received calls from them before a few times, they are persistent.
"I would get a call about every few weeks from someone who the group has tried to scam."