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Global fake tech support scammers taken down by regulators

first_imgAlong with regulators from several other nations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shut down an international criminal ring accused of scamming tens of thousands of consumers with fake tech support services. In all, 14 companies and 17 individuals have been targeted for prosecution, but those numbers could climb.The scam was devious in its simplicity. Scammers would cold call consumers pretending to be with well-known technology companies like Microsoft and Google. The unwitting recipient of the call would be told that their computer was known to be infected with a virus. In order to fix this problem, the supposed tech support rep coerced users into handing over remote access to their system. You can probably see where this is going.Instead of “fixing” anything, the scammer would lock the system down and blame the virus. In order to regain access, the owner was asked to pay between $49 and $450 to “remove the virus.” Many of these operations were based overseas, but used US-based phone numbers to appear more legitimate. To avoid detection, they would often have 80 or more domain names and 130 phone numbers per company.With the help of international regulators, the FTC has managed to freeze over $188,000, but more accounts are expected to be added. When the investigation is completed, these funds could be seized and used to reimburse the victims, but it’s unlikely there will be enough to go around. As early as 2009, there were 10,000 complaints to regulators about this scam in Australia. Tens of thousands more complaints were made as it moved overseas to the US, Canada, and the UK.It’s easy for those of us that live with technology on the brain to say these folks should have known better. Though, for many people technology is a confusing concept fraught with unknowable risks. For these people, a friendly human voice on the other end of the phone can be infinitely more trustworthy than the cold, unfeeling glow of a computer monitor.via ZDNetlast_img read more

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