A federal court in the United States issued a temporary restraining order against a tech support scheme that’s alleged to have targeted U.S. consumers.
On October 15, the U.S. District Court filed Southern District of Florida submitted a complaint against Michael Brian Cotter, 59, of Glendale, California.
The complaint alleged that Cotter had worked with five companies based in Singapore, Nevada, New York and the United Kingdom to to perpetrate a tech support scam.
The scheme used pop-up messages that disguised themselves as security alerts from Microsoft or other reputable tech companies to target primarily elderly consumers living in the United States, the complaint explained.
Those alerts claimed that their victims’ computers were infected with malware. They subsequently directed their victims to contact call centers located in India. There, representatives tricked victims into handing over remote access to their computers and paying for unnecessary services.
Through its complaint, the United States sought to obtain an injunction under the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statute that would allow it to dismantle web infrastructure including payment processing pages and websites used by Cotter and the five companies.
The injunction would also bar them from engaging in activity related to or receiving payment for technical support services in the future.
U.S Attorney Ariana Fajardo-Orshan for the Southern District of Florida said the injunction reflects the United States’ commitment to prosecuting alleged tech support scammers. As quoted in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice:
Fraud schemes that target the most vulnerable members of our society, including the elderly, will be not be tolerated in our district. Our Office has and will continue to protect consumers through both civil and criminal prosecutions. We urge consumers not to click on any pop-up messages or links that appear on their computer devices claiming that the devices are infected by viruses and at risk of irreversible damage. Consumers should delete those pop-ups and instead contact their software provider or local computer consultant directly.
News of this injunction arrived in the middle of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2020, an initiative which reminds consumers to protect their devices and to be careful about when and where they’re discussing their passwords.