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Authorities announce crackdown on international computer tech support scam

posted 3 Oct 2012, 11:17 by Mpelembe   [ updated 3 Oct 2012, 11:18 ]

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announces a crackdown by authorities in six countries on an international tech support scam they say fleeced consumers out of tens of millions of dollars.

WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 03, 2012) (NBC) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday (October 03) announced a crackdown on an international tech support scam where consumers received calls from phony technical support staff -- claiming to be from major security companies and charging fees to remove nonexistent computer viruses.

"Some defendants are in the US, a few are in the UK, but most of them in the call centres they operate from are in India. These scams have fleeced English speaking consumers worldwide, likely to the tune of tens of millions of dollars and resulted in innumerable do not call violations in the United States. Today, along with our partners in CanadaAustralia, the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, as well as with the help of corporations like Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, and Dell whose brands and trademarks were misappropriated by these malefactors, we take a major step forward in standing up for consumers around the world," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Leibowitz said temporary restraining orders were issued against six tech support scams involving 14 companies and 17 individual defendants, freezing the defendants assets and shutting down their operations by blocking phone numbers and websites.

"The tech scam artists that we are talking about today have taken scareware to a new level of virtual mayhem. Shutting down these miscreants is part of the way you can be effective, but more important is this, today's announcement is a wake up call to computer users around the globe that there are some useful strategies to recognise tech support scams and stop them before they happen," said Leibowitz.

Leibowitz said the defendants charged consumers anywhere from $49 to $450 to access the victims computers and remove the "phantom" viruses.

The chairman said the FTC would be sending a delegation to Delhi at the end of November to help improve the relationship with consumer protection and criminal authorities in India.