TALLAHASSEE (FOX 13) - It starts with a pop-up message on your computer, urging you to call a toll-free number to get help to solve a problem you can't see. But it's all a scam.
This tech trap has affected thousands of people, but Attorney General Pam Bondi and other agencies are cracking down.
Carolyn Aronson never thought she would get duped, but she did.
"I knew then that I had been royally scammed," said Aronson.
She decided to install the latest version of Microsoft Windows 10 on her computer but something went wrong.
A pop-up message alerted her to call a toll-free number for help right away.
"I'm rattled at this point. I assumed the help desk was related to Microsoft or Windows 10 so I called the number," said Aronson.
But it wasn't. It was a telemarketer pretending to be with Microsoft. Carolyn was pressured to pay hundreds of dollars to fix her computer.
"I was convinced to turn over my computer to them to fix it," explained Aronson.
This tech support scam is such a big problem in Florida and around the country that Attorney General Pam Bondi and the head of the Federal Trade Commission are teaming up to fight it.
"Any pop-up is a scam! Any pop-up is a scam! Any pop-up!" Bondi fired off at a press conference.
Bondi's office and the FTC are going after these scammers in court. They have 29 active cases, some in Florida. As for Carolyn, she was able to get her money back after informing her credit card company of the scam, but to her surprise the scammers weren't done with her yet.
"A man said, Hello Carolyn, remember we talked a year or so ago about your computer?' And I said, Yes I remember. Goodbye!'" she said.
Bondi's office and the FTC are prosecuting some of these cases. Some of the scammers have paid millions in fines while others are facing federal charges. Two recently pled guilty.
Officials say if this happens to you, contact the Attorney Generals Office or Federal Trade Commission and report it.
To contact Florida's AG, visit http://www.myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/E3EB45228E9229DD85257B05006E32EC.
To contact the FTC, visit https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint-ftc