It usually starts off by browsing the web or clicking a link on a popular webpage. The page then redirects to what seems to be an alert from Microsoft themselves, or "technicians" impersonating a Microsoft licensed partners; at times locking your screen, and with a loud sound with a voiceover giving you "bad news". This message also asks the user to not shut down or restart their computer, as it may cause "data loss" or "operating system malfunction". Sounds quite scary doesn't it?
Below this scary pop up, a toll free number is then given for users to call in order to get help and remove presumed viruses, malware, and even "upgrade" your network or IP security. In most cases, users call the number, falling for the phishing scam. What happens after that is just an orchestrated show to make the user believe they are indeed infected, and that, of course, money is needed in order to "remove" and install protection for their computer. At that point most users instantly become aware that something does not sound right. Especially after scammers ask for their credit card number or checking account.
The U.S. Justice Department charged 61 people and entities on Thursday with taking part in a scam involving India-based call centers where agents impersonated Internal Revenue Service, immigration and other federal officials demanded nonexistent debts.
The scam, which had operated since 2013, targeted at least 15,000 people who lost more than $300 million. Twenty people were arrested in the United States on Thursday, while 32 individuals and five call centers in India have been charged, the department said in a statement.
The defendants, including 24 people cross nine U.S. states, were indicted by a Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said at a news conference that the United States will be seeking the extradition of those based India and warned others engaged in similar schemes.
"It's really important for the scammers in India to know that the United States is looking at this. is watching them and they could, if they engaged in that activity, be extradited to the United States and could sit in jail for several years," Caldwell said.
According to the indictment, the operators of the call centers in Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat, "threatened potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government."
Payments by victims were laundered by U.S. network of co-conspirators using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, often using stolen or fake identities.
The call centers also ran scams in which victims were offered short-term loans or grants on condition of providing good-faith deposits or payment of a processing fee.
The Justice Deportment said that investigations involved Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Treasury, Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service and police officials.
What to do if your system gets this scam pop up?
Definitely do not call the number. Shut down your system by holding the power button for about 10 seconds. Turn on your system once again, clear your web browser history and your system should go back to normal. If the problems seem to persist, bring your system in to Sandia Computers; we will diagnose the issues and get your system up and running like brand new.
What to do if you called the number?
If you already called and gave the scammers access to your system; more than likely you gave them access to infect you with malware and viruses that may affect your system. These scammers may also have access to your data; including passwords, banking information and more. In this situation is best to shut down your system and bring it to Sandia Computers in order to diagnose the issues and remove any type of malware or virus. We will be more than happy to get your system cleaned and safe to use.