The FTC just stepped in to take down a huge scam. This wasn't just any scam, it was an entire business built on fake "tech support" calls taking money out of victims' pockets. The New York-based Pairsys, Inc., stole nearly $2.5 million selling elder customers products and apps that they didn't need.
Now I'm sure that you're as tired of getting cold called as I am, but I think that this latest scam is creepily clever. So clever, in fact, that I think you need to understand exactly what these criminals did. I don't want any single one of you to become the next scam statistic. Here's how the scam worked:
Employees of Pairsys would pose as representatives for tech heavy-hitters like Microsoft, Facebook or Apple and try to pressure them into giving them remote access to a victim's PC. From there, the scammer could easily trick his or her mark into believing that something was "wrong" with their computer (i.e., using remote access to hide important files or changing desktop background).
The scammer, of course, would offer a fix. The cost for their "services," according to Consumerist, would range from around $149 to $600 with a full suite of "extras" that the scammers would bleed out of customers.
One tactic that Pairsys used really stands out: The company would passively seek out targets by putting out fake ads with Microsoft and Facebook logos on them. So Pairsys wasn't just buying up lists of phone numbers, it was investing advertising money to find targets.
Thankfully, the FTC has caught on to their game and is looking to shut them down as you're reading this.
Bonus tip: Avoid these dangerous online shopping scams.
How do you avoid scams like this? There's one very simple thing to consider whenever you receive a phone call or see an advertisement:
Tech support lines are busy. Companies will very rarely start actively calling their customers to see whether or not their computer is infected with a virus. That annoying wait time associated with getting most tech support folks on the line is actually the easiest way to tell whether or not something is a scam.
Other than that, it's always possible to verify phone numbers by visiting Facebook or Microsoft's official support page. You can also check out my top three ways to tell whether or not someone is lying in an email.