FTC Combats Tech Support Scams

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The Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a massive international scam that tricked tens of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem.    

According to complaints filed by the FTC, the scammers called computer users and claimed to be affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton, and played on people’s fear of computer infections and hackers.

After getting people on the phone, the callers allegedly claimed they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat. To demonstrate the need for immediate help, the scammers directed people to a utility area of their computer and falsely claimed that it demonstrated that the computer was infected. Here’s a screenshot of what computer users saw:

Sample Windws Event Viewer

In reality, these warning messages appear on most computers and are a normal part of the computer’s operating system. They don’t mean that the computer is infected. But that didn’t stop scammers from claiming otherwise. Here’s an actual conversation between one of the scammers and an undercover FTC investigator:

Callers then directed people to a website that would allow the scammers to access the computer remotely. The scammers offered to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $130 to $330. The charges were for completely unnecessary repairs and warranty programs, and for software programs that are available for free.

At the request of the FTC, a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered a halt to the alleged scams pending trial, and has frozen the U.S. assets of six operations named in FTC complaints. 

Today, the FTC also released new tips for computer users to help them spot and stop tech support scams and a new video to help people protect their computers from malware:

The FTC acknowledges and appreciates the support it received from the Australian Communications 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.

Visit OnGuardOnline.gov to learn more about what you can do to avoid these scams and protect your computer from malware.

Comments

Dear Sirs, We received a call from a stange phone # 730182 Thursday, 12/13. An Indian gentleman, very difficult to understand, asked to speak to my husband. I told him he wasn't here, could I help him. He said they had identified continual reports of problems with my husbands computer and they needed to help us fix it. I was VERY suspicious and when I told him that my husband doesn't have a computer he could just say hmmmm. I told him that my computer was covered by HP security and he hung up!!! Scary stuff. Thought you may want to know.

Good Luck with the jerks,

Jane Rhoads

Obviously the "crackdown" did not work because I received FOUR (4) harassing calls in a row from these same scam artists this morning, 1/30/13.
these scammers need to be prosecuted.
I will Complain about (530)619-3038 until i get action.

Hi, the FTC will continue to investigate and bring action against scammers like this. You can file a formal complaint at www.ftc.gov/complaint. Many of these scammers are overseas, so it can be difficult to prosecute them. The FTC provides tips and advice for people so that the scammers don't get what they're after -- your money and personal information.

Just received a call with caller ID 730182. Over the last few months I have gotten others that were similar. I never answer the phone with these bonus numbers.

Just received a call (12/18, 9:45 am PST) very similar to the one lasvegasjane reported, purporting to be from phone number 530-619-3038. When I repeatedly asked for identifying information about the machine in question (ethernet hardware address, etc.), they first tried to avoid the question, then hung up. I tried returning the call (the number was on my caller ID), but got a message saying the number would not accept my call, at the customer's request (or something like that -- it was a new one on me).

Thanks for your comment, Wayfinder. These scammers often spoof caller ID numbers, so the number that appears on your caller ID is not the number the person is calling from.

soo many smammers D:

I received a call tonight from some foreign speaking guys claiming to be from Microsoft Windows. They talked of me losing my computer all together. Then they wanted me to hit the windows icon on keyboard then hit r. Then they wanted me to type in: eventvwr. I could not understand his language and asked to speak to an America but I got another guy with same accent but speech was easier to understand. I told him, no, I don't trust you. I hung up on him but I did not like the whole mess.

I experienced the same thing... They asked me to press windows button and press r at the same time.
after a while when I said I was not trusting him (He asked me to pay for a software through western union.. I told him I wouldn`t do that. He tried to convince me to complete the process by restarting my computer and see what happened. My computer was now closed and I couldnt access my computer. I made hime believe I would do as he said and he told me the password. In stead of logging in to windows I clicked "recover windows". I logged in to my other computer and found this site (google searched "microsoft scam" I read every word from top and he still told me that I should do as he said. He would close every computer of mine if I didnt. I told him he was a criminal and I wanted to see him in jail. He told me to hang up.... which I did. My computer is restored and I have erased all the softwares he tried to install. Ran a complete virus scan and reported to my internet provider. It seems everything is safe as long as I never put in credit card information or passwords or usernames.

bestove, I'm so glad you found our article and hung up on this scammer. Thanks so much for writing to let us know.

I was contacted this evening my an Indian man who idetified himself as Sam Rogers with Microsft who said they had been receiving frequent reports of events on my computer and that my certificate was expired. He said that I could turn on my computer and verify that my unique client number with Microsoft was the one he was calling about but when I said i was not about to get on my computer nor give any information about my computer to him, he said that I was using a pirated version of Windows and he could prove it and that if I didn't check my computer and compare numbers, that he would shut down my operating system immediately. I told him that if he really worked for Microsoft that when I contacted the Attorney General of Kansas and would provide them with his information: Sam Rogers, ID UD2276 and if he actually worked for Microsoft, I would sue them for false accusations about pirated computer software and the mental anguish he tried to cause me to get me to give him information he was not entitled to. The call in on my caller ID as anonymous, so I have no way to trace, although I was on the phone with him for 49 minutes. He ended the call by telling me, "You are f***** now lady!" Then he told me to f*** off twice and hung up. I had not read anything about this type of scam and feel there should be much more publicity about it. The caller yelled at me, threatened me and said not only was he going to shut down my computer, he would also press charges for using pirated software. He inew my name, address, said I had purchased my Dell computer in November of 2009 and implied I purchased a service warranty certificate. Is there any way to trace the call?

I cot a call today (12/22)from caller ID # 1-888-888-8888 and the foreign guy claimed to be from wondows tech and wanted to help me get rid of an infection on my computer by going to the start bar and clicking on "my computer". When I hung up on him he CALLED BACK and even after I told him my computer was protected he tried to tell me it was only protected against viruses not malware. UGH, creeps. I contacted microsoft to verify and they confirmed my suspicions that it was a hoax. He didn't get as far as asking me for money, but i suspect he'd rather have access to my computer to take everything at once.

On 12/22/12 Be aware calls from Andres Gustavo phone 786-259-4084, a person with indian accent called me on my first name basis and offered me to fix the Microsofoft errors that they were no longer supporting but his techniciand will. he gave me his supervisor name Bob Anderson, 347-796-4494.

I received a call like that - Indian man calling from 732-852-4679. Said he was from Windows Technical Support, and my computer had viruses. I asked if he meant Microsoft. He pretty much kept to his script, wanted me to go to my computer and type stuff in. I told him he was full of it, and not to call me. He called twice and finally gave up. Hope they close down these scammers.

Thanks for all the comments. Unfortunately, these calls are nearly impossible to trace. The callers use technology to spoof a caller ID number -- the number you see on your caller ID isn't really the number they're calling from. In fact, many of these calls are coming from outside the U.S.

I just wanted to voice the info that I obtained from the Scam from recent time. Using the Team Viewer and Microsoft as the connection on 12/23/12. Claiming being in India they ask if your Computer is working well or not. How they get your Home phone # being on the active don't call list currently they still were able to call me some how a Individual by the name of Victor Jhonson and a Id # m s 2879-038 The contact they gave for a return call if they didn't call you back first is 1-206-792-9801 so you people can research it's location and proceed and put the crooks away and restore justice. Personal use computers only play fair Yea right you low life scum bags do the same.

We got a call tonight from people claiming to be with Microsoft security. I told them my computer was fine and covered by a very good security program. They tried to argue. I also told them that the caller ID did not report a calling coming from Microsoft but rather another number (caller ID said British Virgin 284-620-3537). When I told them their calling number wasn't legitimate, they hung up.

Received a phone call from caller ID 530-619-3038 from a male claiming to be from Microsoft, the caller had a heavy Indian accent, the phone had a bad connection clicking & static. He advised me that my computer was sending frequent error reports to them which harms the harddrive and he could help me fix him. I advised him that I was busy right now and we had a bad connection. He asked me if he could call back and I hung up on him. Googled the number and found out someone was trying to scam me. Thankfully I didn't fall for it and hope nobody else does!

I have have been called six times in the last three days by these scammers. Each time pretty much the same situation (computer badly infected, going to shut down permanently, etc) They are calling my cell phone and the ID just comes up as UNKNOWN. No idea how they got my cell as it's registered on the DO NOT CALL website. Over the last year they have called about every two to three months trying the same thing. Most of the time I do answer it and just tell them I know Microsoft doesn't do this and the call is being traced....they hang up really fast then.

I received a similar phone call twice today from someone claiming to be from Windows Tech Support. He had a heavy Indian accent and gave me the same info that my computer was infected, etc. I told him I was aware that Windows would not call me directly and asked for his phone number. He gave me 980-449-3855. Please just tell them they are crooks and hang up!!!

I received the same call today as all the others and I told the guy I didn't have time to mess with him. He asked if he could call me back later. I hung up and then looked up his question on the net and found out it was a scam. He just called back and I thought I would see where he would go with this. He asked me to push the windows button and r to pull up a box. Then type in eventvwr in the box. This pulls up an event screen that he claimed was the source of all my problems. He proceeded to try to convince me how bad it was and that they were there to help. Then he wanted me to type a web address into the run box. This is where I drew the line. The address by the way was www.ammyy.com . I asked him, can we get more specific on my details and since he had my phone number and name could he let me know what he showed for my current email address. This is where he fell apart. You could tell he got uncomfortable and then he proceeded to explain how important this was to fix my problem and that I could trust him. He was not trying to hack into my system or anything. My response was who said anything about hacking all I wanted to know was what you show for my current email address. Hacking? What the… Then he put his supervisor on the line and I asked him the same question after I stalled him with small talk about the weather and such. Then the supervisor or partner in crime finally asked what is the problem? It’s simple!! Tell me what you show for my current email address. He said I will tell you in one hour and hung up. We know the phone number can be spoofed but can the web address be used to track them down?

I received this same telephone call today, from the phone number 530-619-3038. They claimed to be in Columbus, Ohio, despite the telephone area code of California. I started asking them a few questions, and they hung up on me.

I just received this same phone call. Male, heavy Indian accent, very pushy. Said my computer was sending notices to Microsoft that my computer had a terrible virus that would corrupt my computer. I asked for his phone number, and he gave 307-529-0607. Clearly won't be calling him back.

I received one of those calls tonight, claiming they were from Windows XP. I played dumb and asked for a call back #, which was 213-221-3528. Heavy middleastern accent giving the name of Sam Willsom, yeah right.
I called him back and told him he was a fraud and scam. He hung up.
Unfortunately I had fallen for this last June. The phone # then was718-310-3935...website was ITsolutionsonline.us. Now I'm dealing with ID theft. I reported it to Experian and the scary thing is the middleastern man I talked to at Experian customer care was also named SAM! I'm calling Experian to talk about this tomorrow.

I called a number I believed to be Kaspersky Technical Support to update my security software that was about to expire and got a fellow with an Indian accent (not unusual in legitimate techical support scenarios, right?) Anyway, I foolishly let them download an update from Kaspersky and am very worried about what else they might have done or personal information they might have gleaned from my computer.

The company is called EazyAid.com and I fear they are a scam. I sent an email to the support email address they provided and it came back address unknown. When I call the original number all I get is music...:(

I've taken my computer to a trusted source to have it scanned, I'm going to remove the software they installed, I've placed a fraud alert with the credit companies, and changed all my passwords and cancelled my credit card. They did get a payment from me through PayPal but if that's all that happens I consider this an expensive lesson but well learned!

PayPal actually called me with concerns when they received the transaction - they were very helpful in educating me.

But I feel frightened and foolish and way too trusting.

I, too, fell for this scam back on January 23, 2013. Same thing as everyone else, except it was a FEMALE with heavy Indian accent. I was told they were calling from Microsoft Worldwide, and that my computer had a worm or virus, and was infecting thousands of other computers. I asked where she was calling from and she just kept saying "it's about your computer, ma'am!!", "Please listen very carefully, ma'am", etc... I asked for her supervisor, and got someone named.. you guessed it, SAM!! I did as they instructed me to, also. I opened event viewer, but would not put in the 18 digit # "Sam" said to. He got very angry, and was yelling at me, telling me I was in jeopardy of the government taking my computer. For the record, I'm not computer savvy, live alone and am on disability. I told this to "Sam"/"Jerk". He insisted I had to do this NOW!!! I asked what this company's website was, and he said something, but when I went to it, it was actually JOINTME.COM (Really! Not JOINME.com, or anything else.. JOINTME?!! Also NOT THE NAME I PUT IN THE ADDRESS BAR!?)From that point forward it got even WEIRDER. He asked me to click on something, and I said I didn't see it. He pointed to it WITH MY MOUSE. He had control of MY COMPUTER. I told him that, and he said "what?". I closed the page and the event viewer, and he said "No, don't do that". I said "Don't do what?"!! He said I needed to stay on that site. I said "HOW DID YOU KNOW I CLOSED IT?!". He said "What? I didn't. I just said not to close it.". CREEPY! He then proceeded to tell me, like most others that I had to pay $$ to fix this "issue". I told him again I was on disability, and had no $$. Btw, he said it was $680.00! He said I needed to call someone and borrow it!? I said I couldn't. He kept insisting, so I just said "Well, my neighbor's not home right now. Do you want me to go to her apartment and steal the money for you?". He ACTUALLY SAID.. "Could you then western union it?"!!?. Well, anyway, I just got another call yesterday, 8-21-13, and again today, 8-22-13, from some guy basically saying the same thing, so I just said "Oh, I know about this scam already, and your being investigated right now", and he hung up ON ME! I was never able to see if he did anything to my computer back in January, due to $$ constraints, and lack of computer knowledge. I just spent like 4 days crying over it because I had just bought this computer in September, 2012, and I'm STILL paying it off!! I had NEVER had a NEW computer before this, and I'm really upset that these lowlife's are able to do this to unsuspecting people. They need to be prosecuted!! And when they are, where do I sign up for my day in court so I can get a different "new" computer?? They should have to pay for this. My computer has never been the same, and I'm still heartsick over this. I don't even want to get online ever. What a waste of something that was going to be so much fun for me. Thanks a lot you lowlife, bottom sucking pieces of s***!!

I just received a call from Microsoft 720-528-1700. It sounded like a scam because I've had such calls before but never with the actual company name on my caller ID. They wanted to fix my computer for viruses and tried to call again even after I hung up on them.

Received from Brian claiming to be "Micorsoft Windows Support" and reporting that I had malicious software on my computer. He said his phone number was 786-224-0103.

My aunt called me last night scared to death because of this same scam.

She was online and received a call from someone named "Daniel" claiming to be from Microsoft Technical support informing her of a "badly infected" computer. Foolishly, she allowed them remote access to her laptop and then told her in order to rid her computer of the "virus" (which they undoubtedly uploaded), she needed to send $175 to them via Western Union to an address in Italy. Thank you, Lord, for the angel at Western Union who told her it sounded like a scam and to ask someone she knew to assist her. That's when she called me. I'll be re-installing Windows for her this week.

I keep getting a call from this guy that claims to be from the Microsoft Tech Departmant. He tells me the same thing every time and I usually hang up on him. He called yesterday and started with the same crap, I asked his name and he said he could not give me that information. Then I asked for his number and he said he could not give me that information, seeing that it said 1-999-910-0122 on the caller ID, the same number they always call me from. I messed with him for a while and kept asking why he needed to see this, because I do all of our computer tech and we are not having any problems. He said my computer would crash if I did not do as he said. I kept him going for a little longer, by then my wife was in the background laughing and they called me a few choice word and said he would crash my computer and hung up. I contacted my phone service and they said they could not do anything about it, and that she had just had someone call in about a week ago, but they let the guy get remote access to her computer and got screwed. So I contacted Microsoft and they were even less help then the phone company. When I say that I mean the guy at Microsoft just did not give a crap. I got online and searched "how to report phone fraud." That sent me to the Federal Trade Commision, which took my info and what had happened and said they would add it to the list of reports on this same topic. That is when I found out how many people just dont know how to deal with these scams. Its sad how you see articles on this all the time, you think this wont happen to you and how many people still give over the information. Just as the lady at FTC told me, go to there site www.ftc.gov, search scam watch and they have many of the ongoing scams listed. For your own sake go take a look and be careful!!!

Been getting calls from caller ID 000-000-0000.
After several, I answered curious to find out who they were. Bill collector looking for someone but not me, they had the wrong name. I complained to them and hung up.
Someone call back and left a threatening message. I contacted Verizon, my phone company, and was told they could do nothing about it.
Can't block 000-000-0000 in my block list. Simple software change to Verizon's system

On February 11, 2013 I received a phone call from someone with a thick Indian or Pakistani accent (very difficult to understand). He claimed he was representing Windows Support and tried to pull-off the infected computer scam. When asked him how I could verify that his call was legitimate he gave me the following phone number - 315-277-2525 - and told me to call that number to verify. After a few minutes he called me back and asked if I had called that number. I told him I would verify the legitimacy another way. He then hung up and I never heard from him again. I called Microsoft and they confirmed that this was a scam and directed me to your website to report it.

I got a call this morning. The company said their name is MS Technocom. The man calling said his name is Alan Martin. He had an Arabic accent. Any of the Arabics that I know do not have such simple names. He said he was support for the windows 7 program. Without me knowing it I was getting virus's on my computer. When the call came in it said unknown name and unknown number. When I started to question him he hung up.

It sounded as if they were trying to track my phone number because the sound of dialing and on ring would follow the dial. He was talking fast with a heavy India accent saying my computer was about to shut down...which it did. I immediately shut down all update past two days ago and logged back into my system with no problem.

I received a call from some Indian man claiming to be part of Windows Service Center. He said that my computer was infected with a virus. He asked me to logon and run msconfig and look for stopped services. I asked him if he worked for Microsoft and he said no but that he fixed viruses. He asked how old my computer was. He wanted to connect remotely to my computer. In the meantime I googled Microsoft Service Center and realized it was a scam. I hung up. He called back and shouted expletives at me. I told him to put me on the do not call list and hung up again. He immediately called back with more expletives. You really have to be careful these days.

I fell for the same Microsoft Tech scam and so far they have me for $300. Called Global Connect Cloud in India. My credit card company has not been able to help me. I feel foolish2!!!

I had someone call not more than an hour ago claiming to be microsoft. The phone number that came up on the caller id was 326-172-0000. They had a heavy Indian accent and were going through steps described here. I found on google that this was not the first time that number was used to try this.

I have received about 3 calls now, first two came up as blocked numbers and the last # 530-619-3038 - "unknown name" .. The first two calls, whoever was calling didn't know my name, third call a man asked to speak with " S. Smith". Same man in the recording above. He stated he was from Microsoft and wanted me to log onto my computer. I have a Mac so i knew right away it was a scam. I kept asking him questions like, what's your name and where are you calling from and he begins to panic and speak fast. He said his name was Nick Power, calling from Delaware... CLEARLY a scam.
I played along with it for a while to see what he would ask and then hung up on him after i told him i don't have anything associated with Microsoft.

FTC Combats Tech Support Scams - REALLY?

As someone on the DO NOT CALL list, I have filed complaints with FTC for months. I still get two to three calls per day. This morning so far, two calls (and two FTC complaints) The latest is from the Security Scammers that FTC claims they have cracked down on. 530-619-3038 with ID of Colusa CA. I wish FTC would stop making claims that can't back up.

I just screw with their minds. I just keep saying, YES, NO or REPEAT while I do my normal computer stuff. Had one on for 20 minutes before he finally gave up on me (I LOVE waisting their time!!!)

March 14, 2013 - Received a call from 'Tech Support from Microsoft' it was a call from: 235-683-4810. The middle eastern accented female said Microsoft was unable to update my computer, and that is why she was calling me from Salome Inc, a partner of Microsoft.

Received a call from a man with an Indian sounding accent, named Osgood, caliming to be from the "Microsoft technology department" calling from phone # 530-619-3038. Started to read a script about a virus on my computer. Clearly a scam of some sort, so I told him he was mistaken and he hung up.

Bigger concern is that I contacted the Microsoft Answer Desk Premium Support online service (spoke to Rudolfo) the night before. Wondering if there is a connection, as I have never been contacted by MS previously. Be careful; something is not right about this caller, or the circumstances. Hope MS security is checking into their providers.

Just received a call from (530)619-3038. Knew about this malware scam [scammers called computer users and claimed to be affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton, and played on people’s fear of computer infections and hackers.] When the heck are they going to lock these idiots up.

Just received a call from an Indian man, Mr. French from 302-261-9242. Told him I would call back. Claimed to be from Microsoft.

Fear not Windows users, I to get these great calls. And I'm a 100% Mac guy. I'll burn a few more cycles with this troll for you next time he calls.

I got a phone call monday from an indian man. I could not talk, he called back two days later. He knew my first name. Said he was from Microsoft windows. I told him when he called back not to call me anymore that I knew what he was up to and after a few choice words because I was so mad, I hung up. Scary he knew my name.

My 75 year old mother in law just got one of these calls. Luckily, she referred them to me. They called, but then my mother in law called at same time. Cannot wait for these guys to call me back and I can play with their brains. Haven't decided if I will make up credit card numbers OR tell them I am with the International FBI Internet Fraud Team, how can I help them?

I got a call from an Indian man. Said he worked for "Windows Technical Support." Gave me a call back number of 347-796-4494. Told me my computer was infected and "reflecting back to the Unisys(?) server."
Told me to hit the windows-R keys, and then type in "eventvwr". I hung up at that point (and the guy called back twice). Although this page says the FTC is "cracking down" on this scam, I find similar blog posts going back to 2010!!!
Not a very good job of cracking down, right? This scammer must thing this is hilarious. I feel bad for the people who get suckered in. :(

Similar to the other posters, I received a call from 530-619-3038. The individual, who claimed to be from Microsoft, had a thick Indian accent and told me my computers were being hacked and that these events had showed up on Microsoft's servers. He had me run EventViewer (start, run, eventvwr) and wanted to walk me through the event logs to point me to various events that would indicate "hacking". They then asked me to point a browser to www.ts926.com, which I did. This is a remote technical support application. The "WHOIS" lookup for this web site is fictitious. The Administrative Contact is listed as
John, Patricia admin@ts926.com
TS926
2nd Street
New York, Ohio 56678
United States
+1.724723847

--Note the non-functional phone number.

Good luck stopping these idiots -- they chewed up a good 20 minutes of my time today.

P.S. You can reach these jokers by dialing 855-731-4936. It sounds like an international call; when they pick up they answer as "Microsoft support". Yeah, right!

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