FTC hammers fake tech support scams

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FTC hammers fake tech support scams

Post by Demosthenes » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:32 pm

FTC Halts Massive Tech Support Scams
Tens of Thousands of Consumers Allegedly Tricked Into Paying for Removal of Bogus Viruses and Non-Existent Spyware, and Allowing Scammers to Remotely Access their Computers
The Federal Trade Commission has launched a major international crackdown on tech support scams in which telemarketers masquerade as major computer companies, con consumers into believing that their computers are riddled with viruses, spyware and other malware, and then charge hundreds of dollars to remotely access and “fix” the consumers’ computers.

At the request of the FTC, a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered a halt to six alleged tech support scams pending further hearings, and has frozen their assets.
“The FTC has been aggressive – and successful – in its pursuit of tech support scams,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem.”
The FTC charged that the operations – mostly based in India – target English-speaking consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K. According to the FTC, five of the six used telemarketing boiler rooms to call consumers. The sixth lured consumers by placing ads with Google which appeared when consumers searched for their computer company’s tech support telephone number.
According to the FTC, after getting the consumers on the phone, the telemarketers allegedly claimed they were affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, and Norton, and told consumers they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat to their computers. To demonstrate the need for immediate help, the scammers directed consumers to a utility area of their computer and falsely claimed that it demonstrated that the computer was infected. The scammers then offered to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $49 to $450. When consumers agreed to pay the fee for fixing the “problems,” the telemarketers directed them to a website to enter a code or download a software program that allowed the scammers remote access to the consumers’ computers. Once the telemarketers took control of the consumers’ computers, they “removed” the non-existent malware and downloaded otherwise free programs.
FTC papers filed with the court alleged that the scammers hoped to avoid detection by consumers and law enforcers by using virtual offices that were actually just mail-forwarding facilities, and by using 80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers.
The FTC charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act, which bars unfair and deceptive commercial practices, as well as the Telemarketing Sales Rule and with illegally calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. It asked the court to permanently halt the scams and order restitution for consumers.
The FTC acknowledges and appreciates the support it received from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, each of which provided invaluable assistance to the FTC. The CRTC and ACMA also brought administrative actions for violations of their Do Not Call laws. The FTC also acknowledges investigative assistance it received from Microsoft, as well as from other computer companies.
The FTC cases targeted 14 corporate defendants and 17 individual defendants in 6 legal filings, Pecon Software Ltd., Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt. Ltd., and PCCare247, Inc., and individual defendants in each of the cases.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaints was 5-0. The complaints were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. The cases will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs

Colleen B. Robbins
Bureau of Consumer Protection

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Re: FTC hammers fake tech support scams

Post by Pottapaug1938 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:31 pm

I got one of these last week, when a man with an Indian accent identified himself as working for "Microsoft tech support". He asked me if my computer was running slower than normal and appeared to be infected with malware or viruses. I replied that it was no concern of his, and hung up.
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Re: FTC hammers fake tech support scams

Post by NYGman » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:25 pm

Pottapaug1938 wrote:I got one of these last week, when a man with an Indian accent identified himself as working for "Microsoft tech support". He asked me if my computer was running slower than normal and appeared to be infected with malware or viruses. I replied that it was no concern of his, and hung up.

My wife got a call from them months ago, and knew enough to tell him I would look at the issue. When she showed me the error messages they said were malware/virus warnings, I couldn't help but laugh. Total misrepresentation of what she was looking at. Easy to see how people could be fooled by this scam.

They actually called us back, and I called them on their B/S. Feel a bit bad, as I know these people in India are being paid a pitance to do this, and it is not their fault they are involved in a scam, but then again, as IT people, they really should know better, and have some morals. In the end, money wins out here. :( I am sure they will just reform these companies with another owner, and these scams will continue... I am still getting those pesky card services calls, which have been non stop for many years now...
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Re: FTC hammers fake tech support scams

Post by morrand » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:19 am

This one's still out there.

Got a call yesterday afternoon from "Tech Support." Obviously a predictive dialer, given how long it took to get a call center rep on the line after saying, "Hello!", and an immediate launch into the spiel about how all these viruses are going out from my computer—well, everyone's computer, really—all over the internet for the past few months, and so forth. "Are you in front of your computer right now?" Gee, yeh, I'm in the process of rebuilding my FreeBSD machine from ports, thanks, I wanted to say, but already knowing this is a con, I decided to tie the guy up for a while and pretend to be sort of ignorant. (In my own defense, I did lead off by telling him I saw a "root prompt," which was the whole truth, as it happens, and I think any IT tech worth his salt should have understood what that meant, or at least asked, but he charged onward and asked me to close my windows.)

He tries to send me into Event Viewer, which is a part of Windows that shows miscellaneous operating system information. The con comes from convincing the mark that what shows up in there indicates that horrible things are happening to the computer, when most of it is routine and harmless. Long story short, I played stupid for about 20 minutes with the guy before he finally caught on.

Then it got fun. He called me out for wasting his time, and I agreed that was what I was doing. Then he called me a f*****g motherf****r and several other choice non-technical terms, and demanded that I hang up my phone, which I refused to do, so he hung up on me.

Then he called back. I don't know if this was supposed to be intimidating, but it wasn't. Maybe he was trying to show off what a l33t haxx0r (as the kids say) he was, by hitting the "Redial" button on his console, but, whatever. "Do you know who this is?" he asked. Yeeeeah, I said. Then he called me a dirty f****r again, and cursed me (paraphrasing, but not by much) to be kicked in the ass by a whole line of Microsoft techs when my computer finally dies and I have to call Tech Support, in tears, begging for support, and then he hung up again. In retrospect, I guess I could have done a *57 and reported him for making harassing phone calls, but oh well.

That was a good outcome, given he got neither my computer nor my money, and just 20 minutes that I would have spent bored otherwise. Here is a report on a bad outcome, from someone who probably should have known better than to let it get so far:

http://blog.malwarebytes.org/fraud-scam ... -trash-pc/