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

I just received a call from this same phone number - 855-731-4936. The guy (who sounded Indian or Pakistani) informed me that his name was Jordan. There was background noise. It sounded like he was calling me from some sort of international call center. He said he worked for Microsoft and was at the "Windows Service Center." Uh huh. He then told me that my computer was "sending out signals" and that "this indicates that your computer has been hacked and your personal information is at risk." I knew it was a scam from the get go, but pretended to play along, just to see exactly what he wanted. He told me that he would help me "fix" my computer, and that I would have to visit a website (he never actually got around to giving me the address), and then I could download software to "clean" my computer. He wanted me to download what had to be a virus of some sort and then he wanted credit card info. I hung up.

This just happened to me. I was suspicious, since they called me and I couldn't understand them well. I got "transferred" to a supervisor who spoke better English who repeated the same thing--I had a malicious file on my computer that they found. They again said they were from the windows division of Microsoft. I said oh that's funny, my husband works for Microsoft (which he did, but no longer does). I can have him call you I said. They gave me that number above. I knew it was a phishing scam. Losers! How do we report this?

I received a call this morning from 5749055110, said was from Windows, told me totype in my computer the id # 888DCA60-FCO08-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062, of course I didn´t ! i wrote it down,told me not to give that code to no one under no circumstances!!! then asked me to type eventvwr, and www.ts926.com.....ten my husband came and I just hung up, but wrote it all down to check later!

I received a call this morning from 5749055110, said was from Windows, told me totype in my computer the id # 888DCA60-FCO08-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062, of course I didn´t ! i wrote it down,told me not to give that code to no one under no circumstances!!! then asked me to type eventvwr, and www.ts926.com.....then my husband came and needed to use the phone, and I just hung up, but wrote it all down to check later!

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 am an electronics engineer and build all of my own PCs and know exactly what software and security programs I have on them. It is funny because I just purchased the latest version of McAfee for this computer 2 days before and had run a complete scan(Virus and Malware Free). He had hung up before I could get anymore information.

530-619-3038 is still at it. I'm a Democrat, but you guys aren't giving me confidence in government being able to protect people from fraudsters like this guy. How many complaints do you need before you do something? For every day that goes by, there's another opportunity for this guy to rip someone off or worse, cover his tracks behind him.

May 1 10:00 am: I got a call from the East Indian-Sounding fellow just a few minutes ago. He referred to me by a mangled version of my name (part my name, part my city) as if the fields in the "list" had been improperly imported.

He asked if this person (again, part my name, part my city) was there. I told him there's no one here by that name and he kinda chuckled. I hung up.

HE THEN CALLED BACK. I said, "Hello" and he said "Hello, a***ole" and HUNG UP.

*69 gave me the number and a google brought me here. I'm so dismayed that you've had MONTHS to track this guy down, he's still at it, and Americans are still being preyed upon to this day.

My wife got 2 calls from these people today. They said that they were from "Windows Technical Support" and were seeing errors on our computer. They wanted her to go into the "Event Viewer". When she asked for number she could call to verify who they were, they gave her the name Bob Anderson at 347-796-4494. They called back later from number 206-777-1016 which caller ID showed as "Seattle Washington". I told my wife to just ignore their calls.

The phone number of these individuals is 530-619-3038

I just received one of these calls from a man named "Daniel." The caller ID was scrambled, but he told me I could reach him at (480) 259-3403.

Received a call on my cell from 530-619-3038. I generally don't answer unrecognized numbers but was expecting a call and so picked up. An "Indian" gentleman on the other end of the line asked to speak to my ex, ao I was happy to tell him he'd gotten a wrong number and terminated the call. Researching caller ID (phone #) brought me here - apparently nothing is being done to pursue and prosecute these scammers if this number is still being used for the same illicit purpose today as back in January. Thanks, FTC...

Just received a similar call from Auburn, WA 253-802-0309 saying I had malicious software causing problems. He hung up when I started asking questions.

They called my business today and insisted they were from Microsoft. I told him we had a bad connection and he gave me his 800 number - 866-539-8674 LET'S ALL CALL HIS 800# ALL THE TIME! Let them PAY for trying to scam US!

Just had one of these calls from (520) 619-3038. They are still at it.

Got a call at 8:00 a.m. from a man with a heavy Indian accent. Said he was calling from Microsoft Technical Support and that our computer was sending dangerous files to Microsoft's server. Wanted me to go to my computer and download software to remove viruses. Told him I used Microsoft Essentials already. Finally I told him I wouldn't do anything but would have my son (a software architect) call them. He gave me 800-252-8154 as the number to call. That number, however, is for the State of Texas Department of Mental Health Office of Consumer Services and Rights Protection. Caller id was 326-172-0000.

Bad guys.

RULE OF THUMB, IF THEY CAN'T SPEAK ENGLISH SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THEM CLEARLY, HANG UP.

I just got a call #253-802-0309 a woman with an accent asked me to turn on my computer because of Malware& Virus . I pretended to go along with it but did not turn on computer . I asked her questions Name location company ect the she hung up on me .

Same woman spoke to me

I have been getting the same calls with the caller ID as "Unavailable" Same dialog that all of your comments refer to. Only difference I can see is that the phone number was: 801-385-7594.

I'm worried they can gain excess to my computer through my phone line is this possible ??

Got the same caller today. Indian or Pakistani guy knew our names which freaked out my wife. He said he was from tech support firm representing Microsoft and was insistent that we sit at our machines.
My wife isn't that computer literate but I am and smelled a rat.
When I began to question him he hung up.
I called back the phone number on my caller ID (530-619-3038)in Calif. and got the same message that the people above got. " Number no longer in service at a the customers request".
Talk about blatant.
Next I called the 855 number listed above and it was a foreign ring and the guy that answered said "Microsoft Service Center" When I told him I forwarded this all the FBI he told me..."Fark off"...lol.
These guys aren't even good!

At 9:20 P.M. we received a call from 326-172-0000. A woman with an obvious foreign, hard-to-understand accent warned me that my computer was currently being bombarded by malware. She also said I needed to get to my computer so that a specialist could help me "fix the problem." Without responding to her, I simply went to my computer, turned it off for the night, and went to bed. The late night call was a dead giveaway!

Just got the same kind of call from 212-418-9918 saying they were tech support for Windows 7 and they had reports that my computer was crashing. I told them I had no evidence of that and that my computer was highly protected by a trusted technician. I then asked for their name, where they were calling from and phone number. Gave it to me but were quickly becoming hostile. I asked them where they got my name and number and told me that they had it because I registered my Windows 7. I said I would have my person look at it and take care of any problems...and Good bye. All I can say is that they must be making the dollars from somebody to keep this up...but it isn't going to be me! Stay safe everyone.

We just got one of these calls. Said his name was Albert June. Gave me this number to verify he was legit. 213-761-8498. Smelled the scam before he even brought it on. What an idiot.

Just got call from 326-172-0000. Just like described above, heavy Indian acceint, first claiming to have received word of my computer being infected by malware from an unintelligible monitoring program. I kept him/her talking and he/she later claimed to be with Microsoft in London. I told him/her I'd check with Microsoft directly. The caller persisted, so I asked what he/she exactly wanted me to do. I then stated that if it involved going to a certain URL or changing a setting, it wasn't going to happen. At that point, he/she hung up. I had kept him/her on the line for 3 minutes 54 seconds.

Received a call today from "Out of Area" and got this same shpiel about working for Windows and helping me by showing me all the viruses on my system with eventvwr. Instead of typing it into the "run" command line, I googled it and found a Microsoft support forum IDing it as a scam (I'd figured as much but wanted to get enough info to prove it). Before I hung up, I asked for information about his business, and he said he worked for iFix and gave me the following information: Angel Wilson, employee no. 895623, phone no. 972-591-8270, email support@ifix-web.com, website www.ifix-web.com, located in McKinney, TX. The website includes all of the information (although I didn't call to see if he worked there), and appears to sell tech support services. I filed a complaint, since I'm on the DNC registry. Hopefully he won't call back.

Ive received a similar call from an Indian fellow, but today's call came from New York 718-205-0445 an Asian fellow this time. I made it to the point of running event viewer and started saying I didn't trust his authenticity. Then he got angry and said he was calling as a contractor for Microsoft support on behalf of my computer owned by & used the name of a business partner associated with my telephone number. Never mind this is a residential line and that person lives in another state. Then I got angry and asked for his supervisor. He threatened to report me as harassing him and I discussed what harassment was and that I'd be reporting to the authorities. Then he quizzed me on my age, told me my voice was sexy (wth?) and after telling him that was inappropriate and he threatened to call me everyday (into perpetuity?) until I calmed down, continued to ask him to take me off his call list & he finally agreed and hung up. Thankfully wasted 18 minutes of his time & mine - and now after reading all of these posts & writing my own, wasted over an hour of nap time. Time to cook dinner. God bless America! Hopefully someone can put a stop to this nonsense!

I received 2 calls a few weeks apart. Last one on 7-9-13. A person with heavy Indian accent tells me my Windows 8 has expired and will no longer receive support. I need their assistance. Bothe time I told them I was busy and asked for a phone #. First time they would not give it to me, last time they gave me 347 796 4494. I said I would call back, he gave me his name as 'Mr. Brown'. I gave him my name as Ms. Jones, even though he addressed me by my last name. I did not return the call, as I assume it was a scam.

Okay, I have gotten these calls for FIVE years now, and I am so sick of them. It's always the same: (insert thick accent, probably Indian) There's something wrong with your computer, then they want you to turn on your computer and we all know where that goes. Lately they have been claiming to be Microsoft technical support. Last weeks call I answered and I actually got a guy that let me talk to him about how sick I was with them calling me and I asked them to please stop that I wasn't stupid enough to fall for this on call one let alone call 201 which is literally about how many I have gotten. He then proceeded to call me stupid, and threatened to call the FBI on me. I then asked to speak to his manager, which he allowed! Then I got an even less articulate Indian fellow who did his utmost to not let me talk at all, and to claim that since they didn't ask for my credit card numbers or other personal information that they were legit. I told him they were scammers and that I don't want to be called any more, that it would be better for both of us. He then proceeded to state that "You're mad," and I thought, yeah, and said "wouldn't you be if you have been getting people trying to steal from you for years." He then proceeded to hang up. So today, I just got another phone call from them! The chaps name was Eric (LOL). I guess asking doesn't do much good (Big surprise) I just don't want to get these phone calls for another 5 YEARS. I have really had my fill. There needs to be some way to crack down on these people it's getting ridiculous. Also now I have a Free Medical Alert or something Robocalling me telling me I will get their alert system free (just press 1). Pretty much every 4 phone calls I answer any more is a scam, a survey, or some other stranger that just wants something from me, and that's with being on the Do Not Call list. They must just really like my number. What kind of people are out there in this world? It makes me sick, all these people that prey on others, maybe they were never hugged as children. Who knows. Anyways, if you get a call too, pray that you are luckier then me and do not get them for 5 more years! :(

FTC: Please do a better job "combatting" this scam because I am still getting these calls from "Windows Tech Support". It's exactly as everyone else has posted - A very OBVIOUSLY middle eastern man with a name like "Dave" or "Mike" calls and tries to get me to believe my computer is infected. The last two times I told him that I didn't even own a computer and he hung up right away.

Furthermore, I am on the do not call list. I have registered all my numbers but still get TONS of these scam type calls from many different organizations. I feel that you guys are giving people a false sense of security by claiming to put us on "do not call lists" and "cracking down" on scams. I have not seen a difference in the amount of scam calls I get, if anything it is worse.

They are still scamming people. We just got called. The FTC needs to relook into this.

ITECHLINE just did this to me as of 6-25-2013 for $200.00 and also my son same scam. I live in MA and he lives in FL>

I am going to report this to my credit card company.

I just got a call from "windows" saying my computer has an extremely harmful bug. The caller ID was 000. Was it right for me to put my phone down the second they asked for my bank details? Can I get them in any trouble?

There have been a lot more scams lately and it gets worst by the minute. I have numbers that I have picked up and no one answers. Same number keeps calling too almost everyday.
www.auctionessistance.com

I received a call again today from 347-796-4494 and spoke to Jessica who said my computer had been sending error messages. I said I was away from my computer and asked for her name and number and told her that my husband who works for the Sheriff's Department was also having issues with his computer. She was hesitant, but gave me the info. Wish they could crack down on these scammers. I'm concerned especially for the older generation who know nothing about their computers except Facebook and email.

Same call as everyone else. Caller ID displayed number of 405-000-47553 which isn't even a valid number in the US. Had me run eventvwr to see number of errors and said my system was on the brink of crashing. Directed me to a website of www.ammyy.com; didn't feel comfortable going to an unknown website. Told him I'd have our IT guy look at computer; said he coudn't fix it the way that the Windows Technical Dept could. I asked for his callback so I could have some validity, he gave me (347) 796-4494. I never called; hence, received another call from him just now saying it was imperative that I do what he said or my computer was going to crash. He had a very strong Indian accent and his name was "Paul Miller"...ha!
I hung up the phone and said I didn't have time to be dealing with this now.

I appreciate that this article was here....just minutes ago I received a call from, believe it or not, John from techinical services. As I was doing what he asked to see what he was talking about, as I was curious, this article came up and I was stalling to quickly read through the very same dialog as I was encoutering as he was talking me into the events box and such....I told him the FTC was calling this sort of thing a scam and he got the "manager"...when I asked the manager if I could record the call as it seemed to me to be a scam (I actually wasn't recording the call as it happened to quickly for me to think fast enough) he said F*** you, I will shoot you between the eyes, you are wasting my time. TO which I said, "You don't really represent Microsoft then do you?" LOL F*** you I will shoot you between the eyes again, and then he literally started lalalalaaaalaing to avoid hearing my comments and I actually ended up hanging up. Very aggressive and crude behavior hiding behind that polite patient mannerisms...I assume this guy is not in country and could care less alluding to shooting me in the head, though that is never a pleasant thing to hear.

Same thing. Indian guy calls, gives American sounding name, says he's from Microsoft or Windows, and is getting error reports. They will stay on the phone for a long time, I figured out they're not supposed to hang up on us. I stayed on the line for a long time, saying I don't want you to SHOW me what's wrong with my computer, just TELL me. First guy ended handing the phone over to his "supervisor", who after a while became foul mouthed and insulting when he realized I would just keep him on the phone. I didn't hang up - He eventually did. Today, the call was an Indian guy claiming to be an investigator concerning the scam with guys claiming to be from Microsoft. OMG! I just said, I don't believe you. Goodbye. I hung up and blocked that number. I imaging they'll call from a different # tomorrow!

Oh, and btw, I have had to contact my security company (Norton), for several different reasons, since December, 2012. Every time these other calls have come in from those scammers habr been AFTER one of those calls to/from Norton, or AFTER Norton had taken remote control of my computer, due to problems unrelated to the scam. I know this might sound CRAZY, but I truly feel this may be being perpetrated by disgruntled, or just "shady/greedy" Norton employees!! The voice of the Norton "employee", and the "scam artist" where always eerily similar, and since Norton knows just about everything they would need to to contact me, and call me by my given name, it just seems like too much of a coincidence. Also, I hear these people that work for Norton (and other security companies, etc.), are from poor countries, and don't get paid very much, so what's to stop them from branching out on their own, and trying to scam legitimate customers out of some extra money to line their pockets? They do, after all, know all too well how insecure we ARE about our computers and being online. I mean, come on, is it that far out to think this? And the name of the Norton employees I spoke to with that same heavy, Indian accent were uncharacteristically American, like "Sam", "John" and "Mike". Hey, Norton had just had control of my computer anyhow, and had gone into my files and changed my "sharing", "permissions", and many other things they shouldn't have. I am STILL WAITING FOR A CALL BACK FROM A SUPERVISOR, promised to me back in JANUARY, and again in FEBRUARY, 2012, to resolve this issue!? It's now AUGUST, and my warranty on my computer runs out in 2 weeks. Again, I am so sick over this, and can't believe I fell for it back in January! I feel like a complete idiot! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, GET THESE PEOPLE, as they are back at it again! Also, maybe you should check to see if there is any connection between the scammers and employees of legit security system companies?

I've gotten two of these calls. Fortunately I had heard of the scam prior to getting them. The first time they called, I told them it was a scam and that I'd report them to the authorities. The second time they called, the guy kept insisting it was a legitimate call. When I asked for his full credentials so I could verify his identity, he said he was going to give me something else (obscene language I will not repeat here). I hope the FTC is still going all out to block these unscrupulous predators.

Still going on. Number came up as Unavailable. How is the FTC going to stop a foreign company from making these types of calls? Are we even more gullible to think that criminals are going to follow a court order to cease and desist?

I received a call from (326)172-0000 on 26 Aug 2013. A man with a heavy Indian accent stated he was from a Microsoft support company, and that there were reports that my computer was infected with viruses that would shut my computer down. I hung up on him and tried to call the number back. I received a recording that the number had been disconnected.

When they called today I asked them how they had my name and number. I told him I thought he was a scam artist. I think it is good that you posted this so that people know; however, I am sure that they study websites like this as part of their scam education. (I hope that your webpage is legitimate.) Scamming-It is all behavioral engineering and a fun game to them. It often begins with a fear tactic and follows with commands (because there is a lot of research support for the foot-in- the door technique). The more commands you comply with the more likely they can succeed. They are very playful because they have significant personality dysfunction. They enjoy your anger it makes them feel important with all that attention-it is transparent that they are emotionally very needy! If you took a FMRI of their brains you would clearly see through functional patterns that something is seriously wrong. Either they were born with the defect and/or their parents were defective. Either way, the development of emotional intelligence and moral judgement is grossly delayed while sometimes they show some ability as idiot savants. Most of them were not loved by their parents and are screaming out like infants in rage. Apparently they even tantrum, they feel so lost and alone sometimes....Imagine a mentally dwarf child in a man's body. They do these things as a distraction from their inner pain. They live in fear-fear of looking at their own vulnerability because mommy and daddy did not love them.....
(My point is to tell them about themselves not us).

I got a call from these idiots tonight using the same number and he said the company was uth.com and when I checked I told him that was an insurance broker and he argued with me and said urgent technical help.com and then I knew it was a scam because I asked him 12 times who he worked for and h refused to answer me. He said he could fix my computer for 130.00 and Microsoft Security Essentials does not work because it is not licensed because it was free. They are very pushy, disconnect your computer immediately and disconnect from their control, change all passwords and run all of the scans that you possibly can. Create an administrator password so that permission has to be asked to run any new programs and make it very large and difficult and not the same password as your login password.

I fell for this one time cost me 130.00 then I got to thinking why would Microsoft be looking out for my computer? So when they call and they call often I use some of my best time consuming questions on them and the I tell them what frauds they are. Fool me once shame on you twice shame on me. They are always from another country

Well you "cracked down" all right. If that's what the government calls a "crackdown," then God help us all. Since they called me today, from this same phone number of 326-172-0000, claiming to be from Microsoft. I told the woman (who had the Indian accent) to bugger off. SO ... why don't you nail these people?

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