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Reliable Contributor Hayton
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Tech Support Fraud

IC3 has released the 2017 Internet Crime Report

and one of the highlighted threats is that posed by fake tech support scams.


From the Report here is a summary. More information is in the Public Service Announcement linked to above.

Tech Support Fraud is a widespread scam in which criminals claim to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals and gain access to the individuals’ devices. There are many variations of this scam, and criminals are constantly changing their tactics to continue the fraud. For example, in addition to telephone calls, popup and locked screens, search engine advertising, and URL hijacking/typosquatting, criminals now use phishing emails with malicious links or fraudulent account charges to lure their victims. Criminals also pose as a variety of different security, customer, or technical support representatives and offer to resolve any number of issues, including compromised email, bank accounts, computer viruses, or offer to assist with software license renewal. Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for income tax assistance, GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchanges. In some variations, criminals pose as government agents, who offer to recover losses related to tech support fraud schemes or request financial assistance with “apprehending” criminals.

The “fake refund” variation of tech support fraud is increasing in reports and losses. In this scheme, the criminal contacts the victim offering a refund for tech support services previously rendered. The criminal pretends to refund too much money to the victim’s account and requests the victim return the difference. The “refund and return” process can occur multiple times, resulting in the victim potentially losing thousands of dollars.

During this scheme, if the criminal can connect to the victim’s devices, the criminal will download the victim’s personal files containing financial accounts, passwords, and personal data, like health records, social security numbers, and tax information. The information is used to request bank transfers or open new accounts to accept and process unauthorized payments. Criminals will also send phishing emails to the victim’s personal contacts from the victim’s computer.

Additional information, explanations, and suggestions for protection regarding tech support fraud is available in a recently published Tech Support Fraud Public Service Announcement on the IC3 website.

In 2017, the IC3 received 10,949 complaints related to tech support fraud. The claimed losses amounted to nearly $15 million, which represented a 90% increase in losses from 2016. While a majority of tech support fraud involves victims in the U.S., IC3 has received complaints from victims in 85 different countries.

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