FTC Announces Crackdown on Tech Support Scams

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The Federal Trade Commission recently launched what it describes as a "major international crackdown" on tech support scams in which telemarketers trick victims into thinking that their computers are infected with malware, then charge them hundreds of dollars to fix the nonexistent problems.

"The agency's investigations have linked fraudulent activity to six tech support scams, leading it to file complaints against Pecon Software, Zeal IT Solutions, PCCare247 and Lakshmi Infosoul Services in India, and two U.S.-based companies, Finmaestros and Virtual PC Solutions, which were all named in the FTC complaint," writes SC Magazine's Danielle Walker.

"In the telemarketing scams, con artists claimed to be with legitimate companies, such as Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Symantec's Norton antivirus unit," writes CSO Online's Antone Gonsalves. "They then directed consumers to a utility area on their computers and pretended to detect malware. The scammers then offered to remove the software for fees ranging from $49 to $450. Consumers who agreed to pay were sent to a website to enter a code to download a program that gave the telemarketers remote access to their victims' computers."

"The FTC has been aggressive -- and successful -- in its pursuit of tech support scams," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem."

"Leibowitz said the FTC got a federal restraining order that froze the assets of the six operations in India, and shut down the phone numbers that were used to make the calls," writes ABC News' Scott Goldberg.

"In separate news, three scareware perpetrators have been ordered this week by a US District Court to pay out a $163 million FTC fine, after it was discovered that they scammed more than one million people out of money," Infosecurity reports.