Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a crackdown on tech support and fake antivirus scams that have been problematic for years. The scams such as bogus computer cleanup programs, phone-based tech support scares, etc. is subject to freezing of assets, as well as lawsuits for the six companies involved in the crackdown. Some of these Technogennie, Virtual PC Solutions, and Connexions InfoTech Services, among others.
Scareware scams have gone on for years, whether the classic ones such as SpySheriff (2005) to Personal Antivirus (2009). Many bouts of scareware have been apparent over the years, and they have really fell off the planet more and more the last couple of years. Why is this? Scareware crackdown from the FBI, FTC, etc. Many scams are being sought out a lot faster so the damage to the user communities is very limited.
These companies caught in the current wrap-up/crackdown from the FTC were boiler-room based, making cold calls to people in English speaking communities. Their attempts were to subject the potential customers to fear that their computer is infected, and telling them to purchase solutions to their problems by paying right away with credit card. However, when the users realized their computer was either not infected at all, or that it was a scam, it was too late and the customer was ripped off. Many banks have given the opportunity for chargeback, but that’s only if the person can truly identify that it was a scam. If no evidence can be drawn up, then it’s hard to get the chargeback.
After getting over 2,000 complaints (estimated 2,400), the FTC immediately froze assets of those companies, shut down their phone numbers used for the cold calling, and began a rapid investigation. Victims were usually charged between $49 to $450 to have a “techie” clean their system. Many of the cold callers posed as Dell, Symantec, or even McAfee.
More news about this freezing on the FTC website.
Now, earlier this week, the FTC won a $163 million settlement in a three year-old case against Innovative Marketing Inc. (IMI) and Kristy Ross, former officer of the company. More on that at the FTC website as well.
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The Anonymous group AntiSec has claimed to have mined around 12 million Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) from a FBI laptop, after the hack was claimed to have been part of a Java vulnerability. News has been booming with Java vulnerabilities lately, so this is a very believable story. AntiSec published their list to prove the group had the data. The data is used as identifiers for iPhone and iPad devices.
AntiSec’s reason stated includes that it wanted to expose the FBI’s tracking of Apple device users.
However, the FBI has came back with a press release statement:
The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.
Therefore, all this was just a tactic to draw attention to themselves.
- FBI: We Weren’t Hacked, Never Had Apple Device IDs (mashable.com)
- AntiSec Claims to Steal Apple UDIDs from Gov. Laptop, FBI Says No (dailytech.com)
- FBI denies AntiSec’s Apple UDID database claims (h-online.com)
- FBI calls out AntiSec, claim they had nothing to do with stolen Apple IDs (slashgear.com)