Amazon has filed suit against two companies that are allegedly operating a global tech support scheme targeting Alexa users, CNN reported.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleges Washington-based Robojap Technologies and Quatic Software Solutions in Punjab, India have scammed Amazon users by offering help to install Alexa on their devices through fake websites and applications.
In court documents, Amazon argues the companies developed a fraudulent technical support platform to trick customers seeking to set up Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers at home with faux Amazon apps.
Attorneys for Amazon say once customers download the faux Amazon-branded apps they were prompted to contact a customer support number and “could be charged $150 for useless protection plans.”
Amazon provides Alexa device setup at no cost through its own Alexa mobile app.
The online retail giant said it has received a number of complaints about Robojap misleading victims into believing they are affiliated with Amazon, and selling them unwanted services.
“Amazon works hard to protect our customers, and the blatant misuse of our brand to deceive unsuspecting customers setting up their new device is appalling,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
The companies allegedly used Amazon’s trademarks and made false and misleading statements about Amazon’s services, to divert victims from Amazon’s genuine activation process and customer support, Amazon said in the lawsuit.
Robojap and Quatic could not be reached for comment, the news service reported.
Tim Mackey, principal security strategist at Synopsys Software Integrity Group, said fake customer support schemes are nothing new nor are questionable websites purporting to have the download, driver or patch that customers are searching for but can’t find on the vendor’s website.
“These scams all prey on the fact that modern technology is often more complicated than the user would prefer,” Mackey told Outlook India.com in a statement. “In this case, it’s in Amazon’s best interest for new Alexa users to have a positive first impression. Charging $150 for a tech support call goes against that goal, so it’s likely a scam. So too is any requirement to use any third party app to set up an Alexa,” he added.