Rob here with Patriot Privacy and the Self-Reliance Institute.
About a month ago, I sent out an alert warning about the Tech Support Scam.
In response, several readers sent me notes indicating that they, or someone they know, had fallen for the scam.
Well today, in a small town Colorado newspaper that is published near where Chris and I live, there’s an article reporting how prevalent and successful this scam is in just one small community of less than 20,000 residents.
So, I want to share some of the article, remind you about what I sent a month ago, and ask that you discuss this with your family and friends. This scam (and variations) is the real deal and lots of Americans are getting hurt.
The local article is, “Internet scam nets more than $100,000 from Steamboat residents,” and here are a few tidbits:
“More than $100,000 has been taken from local residents as part of an online “Windows Technical Services” scam, according to the Steamboat Springs Police Department.
“The scam has occurred all over the United States but locally has affected a small number of senior citizens, Detective Josh Carrell said.
“The scam involves the perpetrator contacting a victim to offer them an antivirus or anti-hacking program for their computer and later contacting them again to tell them that a problem has occurred and that the program must be uninstalled and their account reimbursed for the cost of the program.
“The victim is asked to download a remote access application such as TeamViewer or Remote Desktop and asked to verify that the returned payment has been deposited into their bank account.
“Using the remote access, the perpetrator then gains access to the victim’s account, maintaining control of the account and continuing to harass the victim with further requests for money.”
The article contains a few more details and suggestions that you can read by following the link above.
Now here (between the series of five dashes) is the alert I sent a month ago, edited down to the relevant portions of the Tech Support Scam:
Beware of the Tech Support Scam
I want to tell you about a scam that is very prevalent even though the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently had some success in going after some of the scam artists involved.
In fact, let’s use the FTC’s case to shed light on this particular fraud and provide details about how the scam is carried out. This is one of at least 100 scams I will cover in an extensive book about scams that I am currently writing for publication. But I want you to have the details now for free.
Here’s the setup from the FTC’s recent announcement “FTC Obtains Court Orders Temporarily Shutting Down Massive Tech Support Scams”:
“At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida, a federal court has temporarily shut down two massive telemarketing operations that conned tens of thousands of consumers out of more than $120 million by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services. The orders also temporarily freeze the defendants’ assets and place the businesses under the control of a court-appointed receiver.
“According to complaints filed by the FTC, since at least 2012, the defendants have used software designed to trick consumers into thinking there are problems with their computers, then subjected those consumers to high-pressure deceptive sales pitches for tech support products and services to fix their non-existent computer problems.
“’These operations prey on consumers’ lack of technical knowledge with deceptive pitches and high-pressure tactics to sell useless software and services to the tune of millions of dollars,’ said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. …
“According to the FTC’s complaints, each scam starts with computer software that purports to enhance the security or performance of consumers’ computers. Typically, consumers download a free trial version of software that runs a computer system scan. The defendants’ software scan always identifies numerous errors on consumers’ computers, regardless of whether the computer has any performance problems.
“The software then tells consumers that, in order to fix the identified errors, they will have to purchase the paid version of the software. In reality, the FTC alleges, the defendants pitching the software designed these highly deceptive scans to identify hundreds or even thousands of “errors” that have nothing to do with a computer’s performance or security. After consumers purchase the “full” version of the software at a cost of $29 to $49, the software directs them to call a toll-free number to “activate” the software.
“When consumers call the activation number, however, they are connected to telemarketers who try to sell computer repair services and computer software using deceptive scare tactics to deceive consumers into paying for unneeded computer support services.
“According to the FTC, the telemarketers tell consumers that, in order to activate the software they have just purchased, they must provide the telemarketers with remote access to their computers. The telemarketers then launch into a scripted sales pitch that includes showing consumers various screens on their computers, such as the Windows Event Viewer, and falsely claiming that these screens show signs that consumers’ computers have significant damage. After convincing consumers that their computers need immediate help, the telemarketers then pitch security software and tech support services that cost as much as $500.”
So that’s how the scam operates. Please share this information with your friends and family so that they can be forewarned.
And believe me, just because the FTC is prosecuting a few individuals and companies involved in this scam doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of other criminals also conducting this scam.
As you can see, my initial alert and what the police in Colorado are seeing are variations of the same scam. And, sadly, it’s a very effective scam.
So please discuss this with your friends and family this week.
In fact, this would be a great issue to raise at the holiday dinner table – especially because it’s a way to discuss it with folks who may not be as computer savvy as you are and you can provide real life examples from the Steamboat story that might resonate with a friend or family member.
OK. Any questions or comments can be sent to me at [email protected]
Be safe, secure and free!
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective and Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist
PS: Just a reminder that Chris and I are constantly on the prowl for resources to enhance your personal and financial privacy and security. Please check out the Self-Reliance Institute where we share exclusive insider information and resources with members of the Institute. And, most important from a value perspective, all of the accumulated eBooks, Advisories, Newsletters and other resources that Chris and I have produced and acquired since the inception of the Institute are immediately yours for free if you become a member. It’s a huge collection of exclusive material and it grows every week.
I also want you to know that in the very near future we’ll be releasing a new eBook covering dozens of scams and how to defend against those scams. Members of the Self-Reliance Institute will have first crack at that book.
Finally, if you join now, you get a free Special Forces Survival Knife and a free month of membership in the Self-Reliance Institute. I can’t make it any better than that!!
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