HOUSTON -

Microsoft is issuing a new warning so you don't become a victim of a scheme that started a few years ago.

"He told me that he was a certified Microsoft engineer," said Joann Zinnante. "They got an alert and I needed to be aware of it."   

The man who called Zinnante told her that her computer had been hacked. He even walked her through the steps to show her the supposed malware on her hard drive.

"He's going so fast, girl, I couldn't tell what he was doing," Zinnante said. 

And by the time she did suspect the so-called technician, it was too late.

"They don't realize that they're being scammed until the person's actually in their system," explained Miguel Vazquez with The Computer Hospital.

Vazquez says Zinnante is hardly the first to fall victim to this crime that started about four years ago. Within the last month, Microsoft says reports of the fraudsters have picked up again.

"They're preying on people that don't know any better," said Vazquez. "Their scheme is to sell you a program or to  get your information because obviously you're gonna pay for it with credit card."

The man who called Zinnante told her he could remove the malware and viruses for $169. When she and others refuse to pay, the crooks lock the owners out of their own computers.

The crooks have complete access.

"He got into everything," Zinnante said. "I have a business... so I have my QuickBooks, my checking account, my credit card account, plus all your personal stuff."

The fix cost Zinnante $500, and Vazquez says some victims can never recover the contents of their computer.

Unless you are paying for some type of monitoring service, no one, not even Microsoft has access to your computer to see if there are viruses on it. Just hang up if anyone calls making these claims. If you believe that you have mistakenly given someone remote access to your computer, the first thing you should do is turn it off and report the scheme to the Federal Trade Commission.

Microsoft has more helpful tips that can be found by clicking here.