BULLETIN: International Scammers Used Mail Drops, 80 Different Domains And 130 Phone Numbers To Dupe People Into Paying For ‘Removal Of Bogus Viruses And Non-Existent Spyware, FTC Says
BULLETIN: Calling it a “major international crackdown on tech support scams,” the FTC has charged multiple companies and individuals in an alleged fraud scheme in which consumers were duped into believing their computers were infected with “viruses, spyware and other malware” and then charged to remove it.
To cover their tracks, the FTC charged, the scammers used “virtual offices that were actually just mail-forwarding facilities and “80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers.”
“And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem,”said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
From an FTC statement today (italics added):
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.
The scam was targeted at “English-speaking consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K,” the FTC said.
Assisting in the cross-border probe were the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, the FTC said.
All in all, the FTC filed six complaints in the Southern District of New York. The named corporate defendants include Pecon Software Ltd., Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt. Ltd., and PCCare247 Inc.
Visit the FTC site to read the agency’s full statement and to access the complaints.