FTC nabs more scareware scammers

Flushed with success from successfully closing a ‘scareware’ case on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission has succeeded in getting six more such outfits closed down.

It’s a scam that’s been tried on millions of users worldwide: calling up unwitting computer users on the pretence of working for Microsoft technical support, and claiming to have identified a virus on the user’s machine.

The scammers then offer to fix the ‘problem’ by selling the user a software package that sometimes costs hundreds of dollars. Earlier this week, the FTC succeeded in fining a US woman $163 million for a similar scam.

“The FTC has been aggressive – and successful – in its pursuit of tech support scams,” says  FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem.”

The six operations were mainly based in India, but their victims spanned the globe: most lived in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK.

Five used telemarketing boiler rooms to call consumers, while the sixth placed ads with Google which appeared when consumers searched for their computer company’s tech support telephone number.

The scammers then pretended to be working for legitimate companies such as Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton, before claiming they’d found a threat on the user’s computer that could cost as much as  $450 to fix.

The six organizations concerned have been named as Pecon Software, Finmaestros,  Zeal IT Solutions, Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services and PCCare247. The FTC is pushing for compensation.