Tech support scams in which consumers are tricked by scammers into believing there is a problem with their computers that require the expensive services of the scammers is a major problem. Tech support scams are increasingly common and victimize consumers 60 years or older about five times more than people between the ages of 20 and 59 according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Recently, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of Romana Leyva and Ariful Haque on charges that they used tech support scam to steal more than ten million dollars from their approximately 7,500 mostly elderly victims.
According to the Justice Department, their tech support was typical of many similar tech support scams. The defendants are accused of causing pop-up windows to appear on their victims’ computers which would indicate that their computers were infected and prompt them to call a phone number indicated in the pop-up where they were told that they had to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to remedy the non-existent problems which would be done through giving the scammers remote access to their victims’ computers. Often the pop-ups would carry the easily counterfeited logos of legitimate tech companies.
Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware. None of the tech companies ever ask for remote access to your computer to fix problems. The tech support scam of Leyva and Haque is the most common tech support scam. It starts with popups on your computer that provide notices of security problems that contain telephone numbers for you to call to fix the problem, Whenever you get a pop-up, email, or text message that appears to tell you that you have a security problem with your computer, you should never click on any links contained in the message or call the telephone number provided. If your screen freezes, all you need to do is just turn off your computer and restart it. In the case of Leyva and Haque, it is alleged that the pop-up warned the victims that if they restarted or shut down their computers, it would cause serious damage to their computers although this is exactly what you should do if your computer is frozen due to a scam such as this.
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