US authorities bust Microsoft support scam

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Freeze thousands in assets, seize domains and block phone numbers.

Australia has been described as a "testing ground" for IT security support scams after US authorities raided a number of companies posing as legitimate support staff for Microsoft, McAfee and Symantec.

The authorities seized $US188,000 ($A183,936) in assets held by dozens of outed fraudsters that targeted nations including Australia, the US and Canada.

They also seized domain names and blocked phone numbers linked to six tech support scams, 14 companies and 17 individuals operating in India, with a handful of operators located in the US.

The raids are expected to put a significant dent specifically in the Microsoft Event Viewer or LogMeIn scam, in which companies posed as legitimate security staff for the software giant and encouraged scam victims to install remote access software on their computer in order to fix potential problems on their PC.

The companies also purchased Google keyword advertising against the company names in efforts to trap victims.

Each attempted to fleece between $50 and $450 from victims to have the false security threats removed.

Attempts to shut down the scams have been met with various frustrations over the past three years, with Microsoft itself unsure of its legal position outside of the US or Australia.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) chief executive Chris Chapman said half of the 10,000 complaints the regulator received in 2010 relating to the Do Not Call Register were as a result of the phone scams.

"That was just the tip of the iceberg," Chapman said during a press conference at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) early this morning.

"Australia is a testing ground for scams."

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz acknowledged the effectiveness of the scams despite that some of the con acts resembled "a bad Bollywood movie".

He and Chapman conceded there was little hope for financial reimbursement to victims and said prevention of scams required consumer education and coordination between international law enforcement agencies. 

Chapman told iTnews sister site SC Magazine that the precise cost of IT security scams to the Australian economy was unknown.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimated the combined cost of a variety of fraud scams during the 12 months to March 2011 at $85 million dollars, up a whopping 35 percent over the previous year.

Leibowitz said scam calls cost the US tens of millions of dollars and generated thousands of complaints.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) took legal action against two of the six India-based software companies, Pecon Software and Avaneesh Software, for making unsolicited scam calls in voilation of the country's Do Not Call register.

The companies were fined $US495,000 ($A484,342) and $US12,000 ($A11,741) respectively and were served with violation notices.

ACMA has released a consumer information campaign to warn of the dangers of information security scams dubbed "Spot the scammers and stop the scammers".

The FTC and CRTC have also released new consumer awareness documents.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


US authorities bust Microsoft support scam
 
 
 
Top Stories
Content, cost & constant innovation: How Foxtel plans to take on Netflix
Nell Payne inhabits the “brave new world of blue strings and networking”. Just don't ask her to put a TV screen on your microwave.
 
Sending in the drones
Margins are getting tighter in the industrial services industry, so Transfield Services' Stephen Phillips looks offshore - and to the skies - for the solutions he needs to keep pace.
 
Westpac fires starting pistol on core banking upgrade
St George readies itself for move to Celeriti.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Microsoft launches Office for Android preview
May 22, 2015
Microsoft has launched a preview of Office for Android smartphones. Pre-release versions of ...
Microsoft is working on an iOS email chat feature called Flow
May 22, 2015
Microsoft is working on a new chat app, but at the moment we know more about what we DON'T know, ...
Windows 10 free upgrade: Microsoft details who gets what
May 22, 2015
Microsoft was meant to be streamlining its OS with Windows 10, so why is upgrading so confusing? ...
Windows 10 has an edition to suit everyone's needs
May 15, 2015
Microsoft unveils a mind-melting six editions of Windows 10 ahead of its Winter 2015 launch. ...
Firefox 38 FINAL released, debuts new tab-based preferences
May 13, 2015
Mozilla has unveiled the latest version of Firefox 38.0 FINAL for desktop, with Firefox for ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Should Optus make a bid for iiNet?

   |   View results
Yes
  43%
 
No
  57%
TOTAL VOTES: 539

Vote