A 24-year-old-man faces up to five years in prison after admitting to scamming hundreds of victims with a multi-million-dollar fraud tech support business.
Bishap Mittal and an unnamed co-conspirator set up Capstone Technologies LLC and paid for Google and Bing ads as well as access to “malicious pop-ups”, rented from various adware developers.
The pop-ups would then freeze the screens of victims and claim to have detected a “systemic computer failure”, according to court documents.
In some instances, the pop-ups claimed the “failures” had been detected by the Microsoft Corporation.
Victims would then be induced into contacting a representative of Capstone Technologies, stationed in an Indian call center, who would perform and charge for unnecessary tech-support services.
“Defendant Bishap Mittal knowingly participated in an international conspiracy to place malicious pop-ups on victims’ computers, inducing them to call the conspirator’s technical support front companies to purchase purported “technical support” services,” said the US District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Capstone would charge victims anywhere between $US200 and $US2,400 for its fraudulent tech support services.
If victims were running two antivirus applications, they would be told that the two applications were “contradicting each other”, as well as various other cons.
It was also noted that many of the victims were elderly people.
“The conspiracy caused more than $3,000,000.00 ($4.2 million AUD) in actual damages to hundreds of victims throughout the United States,” the court said.
Mittal pled guilty to conspiracy to access a protected computer – an offense that carries five years imprisonment.
The court said in its findings that Mittal worked with coconspirators “known and unknown to the United States attorney”.
Microsoft has long been involved in tech support scams, the company reporting 153,000 instances of fraud in 2017 – 15% of which resulted in victims losing money.
Late last year, Indian police raided 26 call centers and made 63 arrests in relation to Microsoft tech support scams.