Convincing lies and bold pop-up ads have caused Haines residents to fall victim to online scams in recent weeks.

Computer consultant James Alborough of Bear Star Web Design said residents have risked losing thousands of dollars to scammers who gain remote access to computers and discover passwords, contact lists and bank account information.

“Never let anyone access your computer,” Alborough said. “There’s never a legitimate reason for strangers to have access.”

Resident Cynthia Allen said she fell for a scam last fall after clicking a link on Facebook. A loud voice accompanying a pop-up ad said her computer had been infected by a virus and needed immediate cleaning.

“The live voice on the link was the main thing that I fell for,” Allen said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen.”

She called a number on the ad and talked with a man who gained access to her computer to fix the “virus.” Allen said he then asked her to pay for an ongoing antivirus cleaning subscription.

Allen agreed to the payment, but knew something was wrong and closed her bank account. Considering herself a pretty tech-savvy person, she said she was disappointed she fell for the scam.

“Whoever was doing it, they were pretty good at it,” Allen said.

Alborough said that situation is common, but scammers also can get information by ransom, tying up a computer until the user agrees to give up bank information.

Scammers can also send emails from users accounts to friends and family, posing as that person, asking for money.

“They can make it sound pretty convincing,” Alborough said.

Alborough said computer users can often get rid of the large, obtrusive pop-up ads by resetting their Internet browser windows. Most importantly, they should never provide remote access to computers or bank accounts to strangers.