A firm with operations in India and the US has been charged for using pop-up ads to scare consumers into calling tech support to pay for services they don’t need.
No one likes cold-calls from pushy tech support scammers pretending to be Microsoft, but scammers have recently reversed the routine by using pop-up ads to trick consumers into initiating the call themselves.
US regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hit six firms working out of the US and Canada in July, freezing their assets for using pop-up ads that posed as security warnings from Microsoft or Apple.
On Thursday, the FTC announced charges against another network of firms, once again, for using pop-up ads designed to appear as security warnings from Microsoft or Apple.
A federal court in Missouri has temporarily frozen assets of several individuals and firms behind a company that operated under the name Global Access Technical Support.
The ads prevented consumers from closing or bypassing them and prompted consumers to contact a toll-free number, according to the FTC.
After calling the number, consumers would be connected to call center in India where operators claimed to work for a recognizable tech firm and falsely claimed they were certified to work with Apple or Microsoft products.
From there, the scam operated like any other bogus tech support service, by directing users to grant full access to the computer, which allowed the telemarketer to offer false translations of system messages.
“The telemarketers typically direct consumers to go to a website, enter a code, and follow the prompts to begin the remote access session. Once Defendants gain remote access, they are able to control the consumers’ computers,” the complaint reads.
“Among other things, Defendants can view the computer screen, move the mouse or cursor, enter commands, run applications, and access stored information. At the same time, consumers can see what Defendants are seeing and doing on their computers.”
After gaining control of the user’s PC, the scammers then run diagnostic tests and present error or warning messages to convince consumers they’ve been hacked and need help.
In June, an undercover FTC employee was shown such a warning after contacting the support center.
“While displaying this screen, the telemarketer drew FTC staffs attention to a number of errors and warnings in the computer and claimed that these are evidence of computer problems. In fact, the FTC computer used during this undercover transaction was free ofviruses, spyware, malware, or other security issues at the time ofthe undercover transaction.”
Charges have been filed against Missouri-registered firms Global Access Technical Support, Global sMind, Source Pundit, Helios Digital Media, and an Indian company, Global Ites Private Limited. Defendants include three individuals who own the firms.