The United States Federal Trade Commission today announced that it managed to shut down an International phone scam network affecting English-speaking consumers in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK.
Scammers contacted English-speaking computer users by phone
and told them that their computers are infected with malware, while claiming that they represent large corporations such as Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton.
They asked for fees ranging from $49 / €37.8 to $450 / €347 in order to clean the “infected” computers and, in case the consumers agreed to pay the money, they directed them to fake websites hosting malicious apps.
Once the user downloaded and installed the software, scammers obtained remote access to their systems. According to the FTC, they downloaded other free programs and claimed they were removing the existing malware.
A total of six telemarketing boiler rooms have been used in the scheme, while the scammers also relied on a total of 80 domain names and 130 different phone numbers.
“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 hasn’t revealed how many people got tricked into the scheme, but some of the users agreed to pay hundreds of dollars for the removal of non-existent malware.
“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 said in a statement.