The New York Times recently reported on a break for law enforcement from India on identifying the treacherous “Your computer has been infected with…” pop-up scam. These scams are designed to look legitimate, perhaps from your own anti-virus client or operating system. A window may appear on your screen and provide a toll-free number, where fake support center associates are waiting to take your money.
These scams prey on people’s lack of security on their system, tricking them in to believing that Microsoft or Apple are truly popping up a browser window to inform them of an attack on their system. The victim then calls the toll-free number, where the operator continues the ruse of being from whatever official computing company you think you’re calling. Once they confirm what you feared, that you’ve been hacked, they ring you up for a bogus package of services to remove the intrusion from your system.
While many of us may be used to these tricks, some people really do call these faux support centers, with 6% paying to solve what they believe to be a real intrusion on their computer. An extremely thorough study conducted by Stony Brook University estimated that victims are charged an average of $290.90 to fix their machines.
New Dehli Raids
With the Indian government’s attention to this emerging fraud, sixteen fake support centers were raided in New Delhi in November 2018. Back in October, officials raided another 10 centers. Altogether, 40 people were arrested in these New Delhi raids. This appears to be where a bulk of the cell-center scams are originating from.
Many of the world’s legitimate call centers do actually reside in India, making it the perfect country to hide the illegitimate ones. The NYT reports that India’s real call centers bring in about $28 million per year.
Advanced Technology Deception
In a scary development, not only are these call centers expanding to non-English speaking countries, but they are increasing their impersonation catalog. In July, 24 people in eight states were convicted of imitating the IRS with similar Indian call-center scams, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from over 15,000 people over four years.
Confident Security Solutions
Having a confident security solution is the best way to avoid these scams. While not all pop-ups can be ducked, knowing that you are completely protected through all entry points will give you a level of relief that can’t be found through any other resolution. DII President Tom Drummond has discussed why paranoia is the wrong way to go about your security.
Allowing your IT Environment to be monitored by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is another top-notch remedy. An MSP would be able to read the vitals of all your networks and individual machines, so that in case of an intrusion through a virus or malware, your MSP would quarantine and restore any infected element, but more importantly, alert you to any dangers that you should be aware of, eliminating a potential victim’s guesswork.
Another important fact to remember: No official entity (corporate, government, or otherwise) will ever notify you of a virus, intrusion, or violation via pop-up while simultaneously asking for payment. This should be your number one sign that something is not right.
Do not allow yourself to be preyed upon by international scammers. No matter how great the risk may seem, feel confident in the security you have set up and trust your Managed Service Provider. If you do not have an MSP, this may be the push you need to look into that avenue for your advanced protection. There is no substitute for adequate cyber-security. Being prepared is the best defense.