Support Scams: FTC Targets Fake Alerts

Here’s an interesting article from The Register – FTC fells four tech-support operations in scammer crackdown – by Shaun Nichols, about the FTC’s latest move in the war against support scams.

It won’t come as news to regular readers of this blog and my other articles at ESET and elsewhere (or some excellent articles by Jérôme Segura et al for Malwarebytes, come to that) that it ‘Turns out Microsoft and Apple don’t use pop-up ads for tech support‘.

It’s certainly a Good Thing, though, that the FTC (the US Federal Trade Commission) has turned its attention to ‘four companies and four individuals in its legal complaint (PDF) alleging violations of both the FTC Act and the US Telemarketing Act’.

The violations cited here are in the form of fake system alerts, fake browser alerts, or fake security software alerts of the type I’ve addressed here (and even at Mac Virus – e.g. Pop-ups and Support Scams), that advise the victim of a ‘problem’ with their device and direct them to a ‘helpline’ that purports to represent one of the major operating systems, not only for old-school computers (Windows, OS X, Linux) but for mobile devices such as smartphones.

A preliminary injunction ordered by The United States District Court for the Eastern district of Pennsylvania names eight defendants, and prohibits them from fraudulent marketing and billing, and effectively freezes their assets while the FTC’s complaint is investigated.

What impact the FTC’s actions will have on the international support scam industry is hard to say, but any impact has to be better than none.

David Harley

 

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