Six IT support scams’ funds frozen: hitting Aussies since ‘09

Canada slaps a big fine on company that ACMA says scammed a "significant" number of Australians.

A US District Court Judge has frozen the funds of six fake-virus phone operations that have been targeting consumers from English speaking nations, including Australia, for years.

The order was made on the request of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and asked the court to halt the scam and and provide restitution to the victims.The scams, operated mostly out of Indian targeted consumers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US.

Five of the six used “telemarketer boiler rooms”, while another lured customers by placing ads for tech support services with Google, designed to attract customers searching for legitimate tech support contact details.  

The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) corresponded with representatives at two of the six operations, according to the court orders.

Callers targeting Australian consumers duped victims by directing them to the “EvenLakshmi, Pecon Softwaret Viewer” log screen in Windows PCs and claiming that failed application processes marked with a red “X” or yellow arrow confirmed they had a virus.

Victims were charged between $159 to $299 to repair the problem but if they did not pay, would be warned that harm would come to their PCs. The other similar scam demanded up to $450.  

The ACMA had received a “significant number of complaints” against, Supportonclick, operated by Vikas Kumar Gupta -- one five accused of running companies associated with “Pecon Software”, which operated from Kolkata, India but was registered in the US and UK.

The UK’s London Metropolitan Police in July 2010 shut down 19 of Gupta’s domains, including supportonclick.com. The following April the ACMA contacted Gupta regarding Do Not Call violations for another website, pcserviceq.net. The website’s PayPal account was frozen for breaching the payment company’s service agreement.

ACMA had written to Gupta about supportonclick.com in 2009 telling him a “significant number of complaints received against Supportonclick suggests that your business’ compliance with the Do Not Call scheme is inadequate.”

The other operation ACMA corresponded with was Lakshmi, which also operated from Kolkata. Its operations head Somenath Das had acknowledged in a response to ACMA that there had been “problems” with his operation.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission ordered Pecon Software to pay $495,000 and another company, Avaneesh Software Private Limited $12,000.
 

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