Court tells tech support scammers to pay up

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A U.S. District Court recently ordered the operators of several international tech support scams to pay more than $5.1 million for convincing people that their computers were riddled with viruses and then charging for bogus support services.

We’ve written before about tech support scammers. They call and claim to work for well-known companies like Microsoft, Norton or McAfee. They say your computer is infected with malware and then ask for remote access so they can “fix” it. Or they place ads in online search results to trick you into calling them.

You might have gotten a call like this:

A 2012 FTC crackdown on tech support scams led to the recent court order. Unfortunately, new scammers pop up quickly. If you get an urgent call from someone who wants remote access to your computer, hang up and report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

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I fell for a scam last week by a company called UTH-urgent tech help. Same scenario as many others: a call from someone with an Indian accent about viruses on my computer. He was able to take contol of my computer completely! So I gave the requested information, including my credit card. I did not sleep the whole night and did some checking the next day, learning about this scam. I changed my passwords,uninstalled what they installed, ran a security scan, cancelled my credit card and called Experian to put a fraud alert on my report. I just today reported it to the FTC. A friend suggests contacting the local police, but I don't know what they can do. Is there anything else I should do?

I received a call from the security head of a major company who asked me if I was trying to purchase computer equipment with a visa card ending in 4 numbers. I had a visa card ending in those very same numbers and my card was in my wallet. The head of Office Depot's security said he stopped the purchase from going through. When I asked him how they picked up on the fraud he told me he was suspicious because the order used my name and my credit card info but the purchased items were to be sent to Colorado. He then noticed the transaction was for computer equipment and that he was seeing a pattern in the purchases of computer related items using stolen credit info. The security head was good enough to explain the steps necessary to stop further illegal use of my card. His advise was as follows:

1. Cancel all credit and debit cards immediately.
2. File a report with your local police
department and get a copy of the police
report.
3. file an ic3 notice online (ic3 is a
collaborative between the FBI and the
National White Color Crime Center.
4. Alert all THREE credit monitoring
services - they are TransUnion,
Experian and Equifax.

By doing ALL of the above and maintaining a record and/or copies of such you will have evidence. That way if something happens down the road that will cause negative reports on your credit worthiness you will be able to restore your credit standing before the situation gets too out of hand.

In my case the 1st purchase the thieves made was the day before. They got away with almost $500 worth of computer equipment from Staples. These crooks had even changed my email address at Staples so I wouldn't get an order confirmation to alert me of their purchase. I sweet talked Staples into give me the name, address and phone number the buyer used. I went on an internet search with that info and found over 200 people were supposedly living in the apartment where the purchases were sent. Good luck with your situation.

SB

I received a pop-up claiming to be Clear Wireless saying my device was compromized and I should call 1-888-252-5733 to get tech support to remove the threat.

I'm a computer specialist with over 30 years experience and a friend of mine who is over 80 years I just fixed her computer last week and made sure she had no viruses and set up large views for her aging eyes and she called me today because "Support 1000" 302-482-8155 called her and said they were from Microsoft and tricked her into allowing remote access to her computer and wanted her to pay $299 to fix it saying that she was very infected with viruses. The technician "Thomas Brown" gave her a phone number to call back at 302-482-8155. So I called my friend and she said that "Thomas Brown" was still remotely connected to her computer but she didn't give him any credit card info even though he kept asking for it. I told her to immediately unplug her computer (because she could no longer control the mouse as he had control of it.) So, then I called the company and asked to talk to Thomas Brown. He had some sort of accent I could barely understand him so I told him I am a computer specialist with over 30 years experience and that there was nothing wrong with my friend's computer and that him calling her and gaining access to her computer is illegal and that I wanted to talk to his manager. He then hung up on me. So, I called back and talked with another guy that answered the phone with the same thick accent and told him the same story about what they are doing is illegal and he told me to shut up and never call this phone number again. I just filed complaint on them at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

I HATE SCAMMERS! Especially those that prey on older people who don't know better! GRRRRRRR!

Me too just found out fiancee they call you wife is scammer Henry Duaz Nathan oyo and osun Nigeria then comes along another Henry claiming they stole hid email he looked for me a year. Clamps to be oil geologist omg shore but nothing but Google phone number I must report all I've got usa people names addresses tons to turn in oh wow dad was fooled 82 they took his retirement replaced with counterfeit money. Omg. Terri

The number 888-252-5733 is a number that comes up in Google Chrome when you open it and disables Chrome. A female voice comes on with the same warning. The message reads "WARNING: Serious security threats MIGHT have been detected on nn/nn/nnn date and time, photos, credit-card and passwords information might have been compromised. Don't use your computer until you've contacted an official technician. Please call 888-252-5733.

It listed my Internet Service Provider and my IP address. All that information is readily available to search programs even your address in some cases.

Federal Trade Commission website lists this as a scam selling virus protection and other software. An "Official Technician" might ask to be let into your computer to fix it, then you are in big trouble..

i just recieved a call supposedly from m/s tech support telling me that my computer has been sending them error messeges and that my comp. has a virus. I promptly told him that I don't use microsoft windows, and he hung up. When I called the number back it said it is a disconected verizon number. here's the number 4049092566.

Yup...they called us too. I laughed at the guy and told him to contact our Corporate office and talk directly to our fierce IT Dept.! LOL - The dude hung up of course.

lately i been receiving calls from (216)987-1249. the "Tech guy" sounded like he has either has the Asian or Indian accent, the background noise sounded like he was outside or he had a fan on.
at first when i would answer the call no one would answer then the second time they called i could clearly hear there was someone on the phone but when i would say hello no one responded. then today i get a call from this number telling the my computer is infected, that pictures were downloaded without my permission. i couldn't really understand what exactly they were saying but from what i understood they asked me to restart the computer and then they were going to guide me to "remove the Virus/Pictures that can harm my computer".
i heard about this type of phone calls before, i called them out on their scam but obviously they denied it. i also told them to stop calling and if they call again i was going to report them i heard the "tech guy" whispering to someone and then hang up.
please be careful don't give out any information or allow them to access your computer. watch out for these suspicious calls.

if there is a genuine problem then what you will do. it is very easy to blame any company or the services but how these problems are coming in to the computers and for what there is a software hard ware engineering degrees...

They called me - and my trick was to keep them on the call for about 20 minutes - stalling and acting like I was doing what they asked me. Finally I said that my neighbor just walked in and that he was with the FBI who was working a special case with the department of Immigration and that he wished to speak with them. After a few seconds of pauses and whispers on the other end, the caller hung up.

The caller asserted that he was detecting corruption in our email, and represented himself as a member of a support group that had previously serviced our computer some 4-6 months earlier. In fact, they had, which added to the sense of legitimacy, so we allowed him to inspect our computer via LogMeIn, and after performing some rapid scans, he claimed (with a little drama) that our computer had been invaded by Russian hackers who at any moment were about to drain our bank accounts, and that only he and his support crew could save us. We were naturally in a state of concern about this, as we had just closed on a property and temporarily had a fairly large balance in one of our checking accounts.

He claimed that we would need to buy Sonicwall NSA, a high level security system, which his organization would immediately install into our computers, as well as scan for any malicious software. He even shopped us around the internet for various prices for Sonicwall, including Amazon and Avangate, and showed us the various prices (all done with a quick wrist). He then switched us over to another operator who represented himself as being from Avangate, who gave us the price and mailing information; we were to mail check in the amount of $2880 to Prime Technologies LLC, 720 Montague Ave., Greenwood, SC. He then switched us back to the first operator, who proceeded with the operation on our computer.

When they had finished and signed off, it was apparent that they had installed three small batch files into a new folder, C:\System, called “Network Access Protection.bat,” “Network security Ver 22.2.bat,” and “Sonicwall NSA.bat.” In addition, they had installed two programs, CCleaner and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Fortunately, we did a quick background check the following day and discovered that this company is posted in scam alerts, has no legitimate business registration, and the abovementioned location is only a UPS Store. Also, there did not seem to by any “soft” Sonicwall NSA product available; Sonicwall supplies high-end physical routers for business use.

So these folks at “Prime Technologies” slowly work to gain your trust, play off your emotions, concerns and sense of urgency, and fog you with (mis)information you are in no position to understand. Needless to say, we will not be sending any check.

Our computer was later inspected by a legitimate service. They found no malware, but recommended deleting/uninstalling whatever software added by Prime Technologies (or whoever they are), which we did.

The same thing happened to us this morning. So called James Carter an ITTech with avangate .He had an Indian accent called my husband and told him people from Nigeria hacked into our computer and are using our identities . He even told us they are trying to get into our bank account to take out a large amount of money as we speak.

He told us to turn off all devices. They are not secured. Only our desktop computer is safe because he was controlling it. My husband gave him access . I told him why did you do that? But any way I tried going on Google to look up avangate to see if what they were saying if it was reliable. The Tech James told me to make sure all cellphones were off. I did it a couple of times. He said the same thing. It's like he was watching us through our computer cam. Spooky. He said we need to purchase sonic wall nsa network security 3600 version. He check online prices with Walmart and Amozon to see where is cheaper. He said we could buy it from him for $1989.00 He then connected us to another department. Another Indian speaking person by the name of Jessica answered.

She asked for check only. And she was pretty pushing for a date the check would be mail out. She asked for a check number. I told her I will check with my bank on Monday about the hacking situation. I will probably mail a check out on Monday. Doing some research on BBB and reading accounts on what happened to other people. I realized this was a scam.!! I unplugged my computer and roater. Called and cancelled my debut cards. Called Amozon . Will go to my bank on Monday to give information on what happened and check my accounts. These are scammers who us scare tactic to get u to buy their so called products. I called up the real avangate company and they think I haved been scammed. They also said I was the second person calling about this. Well guess what? I'm happy to say they will not get any checks in the mail. Thank you for sharing your story

Avangate...or Avangatee?...the second spelling is the one I'm dealing with...I have Windows 8 and did a complete reset on the laptop, it wound up with Norton on it again but that caught 2 more issues and removed them...maybe related to their backdoor entry...don't know...switching ip providers Thursday...they burned my cell up today trying to get me to pay for this last round of advanced software crap...took me for 500 last fall...tried for 600 this time...I couldn't find any bad stuff on them then...but sure did this time...included their F from the BBB and a whistleblower former employee post on the reviews...I just let them call and never answered...put my phone on a no interruption mode...my landline is a voip. So that won't ring...or you can get a phone with a ringer turn off...whatever helps you ignore them...

This is useful information for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Got a call from 855-760-8948, claiming they are Microsoft, took my computer and show me a virus in my network, I don't know what was that. Anyway they took $499. How do I get my money back, they took a wire transfer. I am 90, don't know what to do.

When you send money by wire transfer, you can't get it back. 

The scammer who called you probably said he detected a virus or problem on your computer. That was a trick so you would let them take over your computer. If the scammers installed any programs on your computer, you should get rid of them. Read about how to get rid of malware.

Becuase you sent money, you might start getting more calls from scammers. They might say they can help you get money back, or fix your computer, or tell some other story. Don't wire money to someone who calls out of the blue. Don't give them personal information or tell them your credit card or bank account numbers. Read about scams that ask you to use money transfer services.

Unfortunately I was pretty gullable last Feb and allowed Avangate Tech to install malware protection on my laptop. Then I really started having problems and had to have my computer fixed. I just recently got another phone call from this company and when I told him he was a scammer, he told me I was dumb and stupid, and then really got nasty. He also told me he was charging my credit card with another $1200. After I hung up on him, I called the credit card company and had my account frozen. I do feel like an idiot, but I definitely learned something from this.

You can file a complaint about a tech support scam with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

602-783-0553 received the same call about my pc they were from microsoft. Of course I have macs so click!!

These people call me CONSTANTLY. I have had about 500 calls from them. I don't know how to make them stop. The only way would be to ditch my telephone service. I can't afford caller ID, and when my phone rings, especially at odd times, I have to answer because it may be an actual call about my very elderly mother. Of course it never is, it is the scammers again. I have tried everything. At first I told them to put my number on their do not call list. Then for a long time I told them that I had notified the police who would be at their office in 10 minutes. Now I just scream at them to go to hell. Nothing gets through to them.

When you get illegal sales calls or robocalls, don't interact at all. Don’t press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to a live person or call back.

The best thing is to hang up the phone. If you press any number you are confirming that the number they have is a good number. Pressing anything or even talking to them might in fact increase the calls.

They are still at it. Global Tech, "Google", 29 Prime, or whatever they want to call themselves... Still calling my phones on the no call list. The number they used today is 979-232-2249

If you get an urgent call from someone who wants remote access to your computer, hang up and report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

We have had Prime Important computer techs ringing us for 4 days 10 or more times a day even after telling them that there is no problem with our computers and that we have a company that takes care of our computers they would not stop and kept telling us we were in danger of viruses we got to a point when we told them that they was impeaching our privacy and it amounted to harassment it did not stop them, we had our daughters answer the phone and still it did stop, we blocked there number and they rang again with another number we await to see if they call again. We got conned out of $300 on two occasions over 2 years how can we stop them and from conning other people out of money.

These are important details for a complaint. Please report this at ftc.gov/complaint, so it goes into the database law enforcement uses for investigations. Blog comments don't go into that database.

i never go here again. bad Company.

I keep getting calls from 844-620-1714. He calls 3 or more times in a day. I am told i am owed $ 149.00 for purchasing a plan ordered from them. The company no longer can provide support and the money must be refunded. He tells me to go to my computer. I refuse and he continues to tell me I will be sent the money through Bank of America. I told him I don't have an account with them. He says he will help me set up an account so I can get my money. I believe this is a scam. He has been calling for months and is very persistent.

Now the ONLINE PC Tech support scam is running on a large from India. They used Microsoft, Google, Yahoo Bing for ruuning this scam. They used to hang the computer of the user via pop up and then call to user that your system is infected and to remove this problem they used to charge from customers. At that time the problem resolved but next another scammer hang the system and do the same process. Its a cyber crime and Indian Govt. must take action on it and instruct the Google , Yahoo Bing and other search engine providers to take immediate action on it.

Despite the advice given I have called the numbers on the popup notices. Not to give them my business but a piece of my nasty mind instead. I have gotten rude or obnoxious with them,insulted them and cussed them out, then hung up. I try to do this with them as often as possible. I think that if enough people will do this they may back off and stop doing this. How long will it take for them to quit if they get enough calls from irate people telling them off? It's certainly not going to make their day a good one to have to listen to hundreds of people yelling at them and verbally abusing them. That's not the kind of job I want to work at. Furthermore if they aren't making any money either then there is even less incentive to put up with this. We should start a movement or campaign to do this. Call these fake tech support scammers up and verbally abuse them in every possible way. It will be a form of harassment and it would be guaranteed to make their jobs anything but idyllic.

I'm getting pop-ups even when I'm using my phone (while not using web) it's showing a number like =call center -0921-1205-000

These people are well known in the UK, and they will try to get you to hand control of your computer to them. Once they get it they then demand a payment to actually end the scam by handing back your computer to you. It's been going on for many years now. Once you hand them details of your credit card then sell this information to others.

It makes a lot of money for these criminals so do not fall for it.

These people are well known in the UK, and they will try to get you to hand control of your computer to them. Once they get it they then demand a payment to actually end the scam by handing back your computer to you. It's been going on for many years now. Once you hand them details of your credit card then sell this information to others.

It makes a lot of money for these criminals so do not fall for it.

I believe certain Americans are targeted for this kind of harassment. Different phone numbers are used to keep calling even though they know I am aware of their scam.

It's amazing people fall for this. On the other side of the coin everytime I call Msoft now they want to do a remote session. Plus I have difficulty understanding them.

get pop up ads saying myhostedaccounting. Windows has detected unusual activity and security breach on my computer network,says to go to microsoft.com or call 877-717-8009 or 855-276-1766. Im an idiot who did go to their website and do the remote, but when he told me the price i told him to go to hell and hung up. Was Nigerian.

One think I didnt read in all of these posts is how to get rid of the pop up because i cant go to a single site with out it popping up and preventing me from doing anything.

Ust got the same thing. Searching for solution now....

Same problem here and same ph number 877-717-8009.

I just reported a scam to FTC this morning. I received a call on the 17th of Nov. 2015, that my computer had been infected with malware. The man that called said he was with Dell Technical and told me the exact type of computer I was using, trying to make me believe that he was a legitimate rep. of Dell computer systems. He wanted me to give him access to my system at that point, but told him at this time I would not be available to do it. I asked him where I could reach him the next day, and he said he would call me. I told him availability of time was a problem and for him to give me his name and number. He said OK and gave me this name and phone number whichis as follows, Chistopher Coelso, at 1-800-426-5255. I immediately went and checked my virus protections and found no problems. the next morning I called Dell Technical and gave them the above phone umber and asked them to check if it was a good Dell number. It was not a lisdted number and they took the time and reported it to FTC, and requested that I do the same thing. Which has been accomplished. The only way to stop these schemes is to report and do not give anyone any information unless you are doing the calling. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!!

Just received a call from a "John Wilson" which I said that's not your real name is it and he said 'Yes, Mam'. He said he was from LT Global and that my computer had a bad virus and was going to crash. I got his number 516-252-1070 and told him I was going to make a call to someone else about. He asked me three times if I was in front of my computer and I told him no. This is the second time I have had this experience.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. We can't address complaints that come through the blog comments. Please go to ftc.gov/complaint to report this.

I also received a call from Christopher at 1-800-426-5255. I contacted Dell and they told me it was a scam, but they would be happy to run a check on my computer (for a fee!) to remove any viruses that the scammer may have installed. Any conspiracy theorists out there?

Just had my 5th call saying they were from dell telling me my computer was sending reports to tech support. When stating my computer hasn't been turned on he hung up. Next one I asked for a number to call back since I wasn't home...he hung up. One just now gave me phone #1800-426-5255.

This afternoon. call from sonic wall nsa network. Said I was being hack I should up grade, that they would discount it because I was cover for 3 yrs, but it was my fault it was disconnected. I told them I thought it was them and that they were trying to make me pay up. He got really mad after I refused. said if I didn't pay for it he was going to wipe out my whole bank account. He called me names I wouldn't print. My husband and I went right to the bank and canceled our cards, the bank is watching out for them. These people are really nuts. The company should fire them.

They are still at it . Called me multiple times telling me to go to 1234computer and click on the secure link to a server, that is actually a remote access program.

I got calls from 1-212-650-7149 claiming to be fro MS saying they are receiving alerts that someone is trying to put a virus on my pc. Do they really think people fall for that?

As of 1/23/16 these scammers are still active; they've now moved on to cell phone cold-calling. They called my house once (at 1 AM!) using the "Microsoft" version of this scam and I told them I lived on Mars and had no Internet access. The guy on the other end didn't get the joke. I could hear other reps in the background talking in English and what sounded like Russian or Ukrainian, but with an Indian accent, so I'm not entirely sure they're actually based in India anymore.

They are still going. Had a call last week and yet again this morning. Caller ID showed 1-855-210-3300 (210 happens to be a local exchange). Gave the whole Microsoft virus story on my MAC. Said they received reports. When I asked which computer, could not say. Told him I would call back and to give me a number. Gave me name of Frederick Fernandez (sorry, not a latin accent, but Indian), at 855-593-3163. I contacted Apple who told me it was a scam (which I suspected). Needless to say, I did not call back.

the company name: tech live center. toll free no: 18555544666, but ? order id NGG5Q8AC, merchant name: BUGSCRUB. held my computer hostage, charged me, got all my data now, closed my credit card and removed every online bank password in Safari preferences. still so shaken. disputing the bank charge to my credit card yesterday, for which they have all data, etc. scrambling for security and privacy again today!

the "tech live connect" claim to be a legit operation, subcontracted by apple. all Indian operators, they explain how much garbage is on my computer, but more compelling than that, they had me hostage, with my computer frozen. i mean locked. i paid $199.99 to get out of there. yesterday i disputed the entry as it is pending. please help me and OTHERS.

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