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Global action takes down tech support scam

Canadian, Australian and US authorities claim victory over crims

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Australian, US and Canadian authorities have jointly proclaimed a victory over scammers who call punters and offer unsolicited and unnecessary tech support.

The scam has been running for years and involves a call from someone claiming to be an employee of Microsoft or another tech titan. If you answer, the caller explains that malware has been detected on your PC and helpfully offers to remove it. One remote desktop session and hefty credit card charge later – some charge up to US$450 for the service - the scammer either does nothing whatsoever or installs free anti-virus software.

The USA's Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Australia's Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Canada's Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) have each emitted near-simultaneous statements proclaiming the success of operations directed at sources of the scam. Canada has named and fined two firms it deems responsible, the USA has frozen the assets of six operators and initiated legal action against 16 companies and 17 individuals.

Australia is claiming credit for the bust, with ACMA saying it received complaints from Australians listed on the Do Not Call register that prohibits unsolicited telemarketing calls. As it investigated those complaints, ACMA passed on details to the FTC, setting in motion a process that concluded with a joint announcement by the three nations.

CRTC Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer Andrea Rosen summed up the attitude of all three nations in saying “The coordinated actions taken by our agencies today send a strong message that telemarketers cannot use national borders to evade detection or pursuit by enforcement agencies.”

Fine sentiments, but ones that don't mean it's Game Over for these scammers, as the FTC notes they've also targeted punters in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

One of the firms named by the FTC is 'Pecon Software UK Ltd', an entity Companieshouse.co.uk says has a registered office on London's Regent Street.

The FTC says some of the scammers "... hoped to avoid detection by consumers and law enforcers by using virtual offices that were actually just mail-forwarding facilities, and by using 80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers." Pecon's website is registered in the .in domain. ®

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