Electric Death Potatoes

"He sounded so genuine on the phone," says concerned microwave owner Christian Pyle. "He used all sorts of technical expressions. To be honest, I couldn't really follow it all but he seemed to know what he was talking about."

Mr Pyle is just one of many unsuspecting victims of a novel new scam that allows criminals to take control of your microwave. Typically the scammer will phone up out of the blue, claiming to be from the manufacturer. They will tell you that they have detected problems and that you need to input a series of instructions in order to resolve the problem. In reality, the instructions allow the scammer to gain remote access to your microwave, usually so that they can install malicious foodstuffs and virus-laden ready meals.

"We've come across a lot of cases like this just lately," says Ray Turing, a freelance kitchen security consultant. "In many cases users won't notice much difference. You might find that your Cup-a-Soup is a slightly different shade, or that there's a rogue carrot in your shepherd's pie. But on some occasions the results are more dramatic."

As an example of one of these more 'dramatic' incidents, Mr Turing informs us about a man in Halifax who returned home from work to find a bright green potato slowly revolving in his microwave, fizzing and sparking and glaring at him with its one baleful eye.

"It's a growing problem, but the advice is simple," Mr Turing tells us. "If you get one of these calls, just put the phone down straight away, else the consequences could be severe. Although, thankfully, you'll be pleased to learn that reports of electric death potatoes are quite rare."

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