Multinational payment processing firm Nexway has been rapped across the knuckles by the US authorities, who claim that the firm knowingly processed fraudulent credit card payments on behalf of tech support scammers.
A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint argues that Nexway and its subsidiaries broke the law by helping scammers cheat money from unsuspecting consumers.
Victims were tricked into believing that their computer was malware-infected and that the scammer (often pretending to be a Microsoft support technician) would help them fix it.
According to the FTC, Nexway is guilty of processing payments for scam outfits with names such as "Tech Live Connect" and "Premium Techie Support."
The FTC claims that Nexway made it possible for tech support scammers to "gain furtive access" to the credit card system, and evade detection by card firms for a longer period of time:
"The charges Nexway surreptitiously placed in the credit card system and the collection of money consumers paid is the life-blood of tech support scams."
Most damningly, the FTC claims that Nexway "engaged in this activity even though it and its officers knew or consciously avoided knowing that its tech support clients were engaged in deceptive telemarketing practices."
And the scams went on for a long time. The FTC reports that Tech Live Connect, for instance, used deceptive pop-ups on victims' computers on many instances between August 2016 and February 2020 to fool users into believing their PCs were suffering from a virus infection, and pay for a "fix."
As far back as 2017, scourge of the scammers Jim Browning showed how Tech Live Connect workers entrapped victims into spending hundreds of dollars when there was nothing wrong with their computer.
As well as Nexway and its subsidiaries, an associated company called Asknet, as well as Nexway's CEO Victor Iezuitov and Chief Strategy Officer Casey Potenzone were also named in the complaint.
Initially ordered to pay $49.5 million, Nexway has now been told by the FTC that it will accept just US $650,000 - if it agrees to court orders that "prohibit them from any further payment laundering and require them to closely monitor other high-risk clients for illegal activity."
I can't help but feel that Nexway has got away pretty easy... and will those who managed the tech support scam boiler rooms ever be brought to justice?
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.