In one of the latest legal twists on hackers who hold hardware and software and the data held within for ransom, Courthousenews.com reported Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission has sued five firms and three men havuing allegedly acted as masterminds behind a global Internet scam.
The site reported that the suit, filed earlier this month, is part of a “crackdown” on fraud that extends across five countries. The five firms named in the suit are Global Access Technical Support, Source Pundit, Helios Digital Media, Vglobal Ites Private Limited and Global Smind. The three indviduals named in the suit are Rajiv Chhatwal, Neeraj Dubey and Rupinder Kaur. According to the complaint, the trio worked in the same call center located in India and the firms all share bank accounts, employees and other defining characteristics.
The hacking and ransom itself: Tie up a user’s computer and then say they’ve got a virus – one you;ll fix…for money, of course. The Federal Trade Commission said that the defendants used their alerts via pop up ads, and that they need immediate aid via toll free number. There ruse continues with “technical support advisors” that are supposedly affiliated with tech behemoths such as Apple or Microsoft. The calls are actually routed into India and the victims are then pressured into parting with money to be released from the supposed virus (and the very real, stubborn pop-up ads). The unwitting consumer user often lets the scam artists deploy remote access to seem like they are “fixing” the problem. The FTC has frozen $188,000 in assets held by the firms and also are seeking permanent injunctions against the defendants, who may have already scammed tens of thousand of people worldwide.