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Security & privacy

Tech support scammer fined millions for cons

Crooks are always on the lookout for opportunities to trick potential victims into forking over some of their hard-earned cash.

One widespread ploy is the classic tech support scam. This is when fraudsters contact potential victims via phone or lure them into calling via alarming pop-up ads and make it seem like their computers are infected with a virus or hobbled by some other serious security issue.

Tech support call scammers typically prey on computer owners with limited technical knowledge.

They ramble on and on and blurt off a laundry list of meaningless computer phrases and jargon in hopes of confusing their victims into giving away their credit card information or grant remote access to their machines.

Now, if you’ve ever been a victim of a tech support scam, you’ll be glad to know that, at least for the victims of this notorious fraudster, justice is being served.

Tech support scammer is toast

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ordered an alleged tech support scammer named Parmit Singh Brar to pay a massive $7.5 million fine for tricking elderly Americans into purchasing fake tech support services from India.

The FTC has also permanently banned Brar from “advertising, marketing, promoting, or offering for sale of Technical Support Services.”

Since 2015, Brar operated under two business names, Genius Technologies and Avangatee Services, and his representatives, claiming to be from popular tech companies, told their victims that their computers are at risk.

The victim complaints range from large payments made by mostly elderly individuals.

The swindled amounts are shocking! They included wired transfers of $79,998 and $59,998, plus signed checks in the amounts of $19,998 (for “internet repair”), $41,998 (for “computer security”), and $22,000 (for “computer support”).

The two companies that Brar operated are believed to be the U.S. fronts for receiving these payments.

The M.O.

According to the FTC, Brar’s Indian-based telemarketers will contact their potential victims through phone or via malicious pop-up ads. Pretending to be from well-known tech companies, the scammers will then try to gain remote access to the victim’s computer.

Once remote access is granted, it’s game over. The scammers will fake a serious security issue and convince the victims to install expensive but terribly outdated security software. The scammers will also search for personal and banking information they can steal.

The cost to their “customers” ranged from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

And get this, victims who were considered extra gullible also received follow-up calls and the same exact scam is repeated. Talk about second servings.

Was justice served?

The settlement for Brar’s case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, the $7.6 million judgment was temporarily whittled down to $136,000 for now because of Brar’s inability to pay the full amount of the fine.

This particular case is interesting because it was first announced by the FTC in February, just in time for the U.S. Department of Justice’s launch of a renewed campaign that’s aimed at protecting the elderly from scams.

Is the campaign working? It’s still early to tell but if they can corner more tech support scammers like Brar and put them behind bars then the world would definitely be a better place, don’t you think? App background

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