YPSILANTI, MI — While some customers visit Jafferson Computers in Ypsilanti to get a minor fix for their laptop, others are sharing how a random pop-up advertisement has cost them $36,000.
Mateen Jaffer, founder of Jafferson Computers, 4015 Carpenter Road, has been operating his business for 18 years. It provides in-store professional internet technology services and computer repairs.
But, while computer scams have always been around, Jaffer said he has noticed more customers being scammed out of money the past few years.
Some of the major scams involve scammers acting as well-known organizations such as the IRS, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, demanding they purchase or repay money quickly through their computers. Other times a pop-up advertisement, acting as one of these companies, leads a person right into calling the scammer’s number.
Jaffer said he felt compelled to increase awareness of these cyberattacks by hosting free classes at local libraries to educate participants on how to detect and avoid scams.
The first class, 13 years ago, was at the Ann Arbor Public Library. Since then, he has volunteered at Ypsilanti District Library and Saline District Library.
“I just want to go out and just keep increasing the awareness to these problems that are happening,” Jaffer said. “I believe the more I talk, the more people discuss these situations and the easier it is for them to recognize when they find themselves in the situation either over text, call or over email.”
Jaffers classes discuss current online scams like phishing emails, scam phone calls and text scams, otherwise known as smishing. The presentation shares first-hand accounts of people who have been scammed, and Jaffer gives tips on how someone can protect their computers and themselves from these situations.
Regardless of its delivery, Jaffer said a scam play with people’s emotions, create uncertainty and make someone’s actions feel urgent. He stresses the importance of people taking time to consult others when dealing with a potential scam.
“Whenever they have a situation, they should just stop, think and maybe talk to their loved one,” Jaffer said, “I think they can minimize their risk of being scammed if they just stop, think and then communicate.”
After a few years of volunteering at libraries, Jaffer decided to also take his classes to senior centers.
Through these classes, Jaffer educates senior citizens that their age group, especially if they are older than 60, is falling victim to scams more than others.
Jaffer has collaborated with Catherine Mitchell, president of Washtenaw County Senior Leaders, Inc., to find senior citizens who may need his help. WCSL is a nonprofit networking group for those working in the senior living or senior support industry.
Mitchell has seen first-hand the impact Jaffer has had on some of the senior citizens she works with.
“One gentleman came up to me a week and a half later and said ‘Thank you for bringing that guy in. I learned some stuff and some of the other women that I was sitting with said they had never heard of these things, and they didn’t know about them,’” Mitchell said. “They were really appreciative to have that experience brought to them.”
Jaffer has been receiving help with his classes from Aaron DeSanto, technical manager at Jafferson Computers, for the last four years. DeSanto offers feedback on what to include in these classes.
By helping Jaffer, DeSanto has realized that this issue is larger than the work the two are doing.
“We need to start disseminating this information as a society,” DeSanto said. “It’s starting to gain traction and that’s good, but there’s definitely more to do.”
As for the future, Jaffer intends to continue educating his community. He encourages those interested in his program to reach out to him directly so he can help more people that need it.
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