A US district court judge has frozen the assets of organisations and individuals associated with the long-running "Event Viewer" tech support scam, which included Australians among its victims. The FTC credited overseas organisations, including the Australian Communications and Media Authority, for aiding in the action against the alleged scammers.
The asset freeze comes after court action brought in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Federal Trade Commission. The cases brought by the FTC in six filings targeted 14 organisations and 17 individuals.
The FTC cases targeted 14 corporate defendants and 17 individual defendants in 6 legal filings, Pecon Software Ltd., Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt. Ltd., and PCCare247, Inc., and individual defendants in each of the cases.
The long-running scam involves impersonating legitimate tech support personnel from companies such as Microsoft. The scammers, which are largely based in India, would contact people in English-speaking countries, including Australia, and typically get the victim to run Windows Event Viewer, which displays error logs for the system. This would be used as evidence that the computer needs to be 'fixed'.
One of the FTC court filings explains: "After directing the consumer to the Event Viewer ['eventvwr'], the Defendants often will ask the consumers if they see any entries with errors or warnings marked with red X’s or yellow triangles. When the consumers respond that they do, the Defendants will state that these entries confirm that there are viruses or other malware present on the consumers’ computers and that the computers are in danger of crashing."
These errors and warnings are used to convince victims to give remote access to the scammers, at which point the scammer will "continue their deception by focusing the consumer’s attention on a list of innocuous files, emphasizing the risk these files supposedly pose, and stressing the urgent need for the consumer to buy the Defendants’ products and services to prevent the computer from crashing."
The end result is often convincing the victim to pay for a non-existent security service.
Because the scams are generally based in India, tackling them has been considered difficult. Australians have frequently been targeted by the scammers, with Computerworld's original investigation into the issue being one of our most popular articles.