The FBI has arrested two technical support fraudsters from March 2015 to December 2018, defrauding more than 7,500 victims for more than $10 million, most of whom are elderly. The two fraudsters were arrested on September 18 and accused of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Each accusation is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The two allegedly used the old but still popular method of fraud, using malicious websites to pop up advertisements and deceiving victims that their computers were infected with viruses, malware, adware, etc. The only solution was to dial a fake technical support number. Once the victim makes such a call, the scammer will swindle the so-called repair service fee. These fees are paid to the scammer in the form of annual, lifetime or one-time payments ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Court documents show that sometimes victims are cheated twice. After paying the initial fee, the scammers made a follow-up call to the victim, claiming that the original technical support company had closed down and could provide a refund to the victim. “There was another side to the fraud where victims were tricked into believing that because the IT support company had gone out of business, they were due a refund. The fraudsters then convinced the victim that they’d been repaid too much due to a typographical error (e.g., $4,500 instead of $450) and should reimburse the company with thousands of dollars, typically paid in gift cards.”