How ‘Tech Support’ Scam started?
CHARLOTTE, NC — A Charlotte man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to conspiracy to access protected computers in a “tech support” scam that targeted hundreds victims, many of whom were elderly, and defrauded them by more than $3 million, according to the Department of Justice.
Bishap Mittal, 24, made his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer March 20 and was released on bond.
According to DOJ, Mittal took part in a conspiracy that placed fake pop-up ads on victims’ computers using malicious pop-up adware that indicated they had a serious computer problem in an attempt to get them to pay for “technical support” to resolve it.
Mittal, along with a co-conspirator who he lived with in Charlotte and who was also owner of Charlotte-based Capstone Technologies LLC, ran the scam by using a call center in India that handled the “tech support” calls, DOJ said. The company also operated under aliases, such as Authenza Solutions LLC, MS-Squad Technologies, MS-Squadm, MS Infotech, United Technologies, and Reventus Technologies.
“The fake pop-ups would suddenly appear on victims’ computers freezing their screens, prompting victims to contact Capstone Technologies at a number shown on the pop-up ad,” DOJ said. “When victims called the Indian-based tech support center for assistance, the co-conspirators used remote access tools to gain control of the victims’ computers. Once in control of the computers, the scammers identified various fictitious causes for the victims’ purported computer malfunction, including the presence of malware or computer viruses, and induced victims to pay for virus clean-up or other tech support services. The co-conspirators then charged victims between $200 and $2,400 to make computers operable again,” DOJ said in a statement.
DOJ recently concluded a nationwide sweep targeting elder fraud that has led to the victimization of more than 1 million Americans. Tech fraud is one increasingly common tactic, and prompted more than 142,000 complaints to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network in 2018, DOJ said.