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Amazon, Microsoft, and India crack down on tech support scams

Amazon, Microsoft, and India crack down on tech support scams


Call center operators use pop-ups, malware, and cold calls to get people to pay for PC ‘fixes’ they don’t really need.

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A smartphone sits on top of a surface with red tape reading “DANGER.” Where one strip intersects the phone, it continues inside the phone’s screen.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Amazon, Microsoft, and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country’s federal enforcement agency, have announced a major crackdown on tech support fraud.

The CBI’s post details two instances where scammers pretended they were customer support agents for two “well-known multi-national companies” (Amazon and Microsoft) through pop-ups that “falsely appeared to be security alerts” from the companies.

Through their scheme, the scammers would get people to call a toll-free number to one of their call centers, take over a user’s computer remotely, convince users of the “pretense of non-existing problems,” and “make them pay hundreds of Dollars for unnecessary services” while impersonating as workers for Amazon and Microsoft.

Microsoft has a website detailing the popular versions of these scams, how to identify them, and steps on what to do if you believe you’ve been affected.

As part of the crackdown, “the CBI conducted intensive searches in five separate cases at 76 locations across multiple states,” the CBI wrote. “In the wake of Operation Chakra-II, 32 mobile phones, 48 laptops / hard disks, images of two servers, 33 SIM cards, and pen drives were confiscated and numerous bank accounts were freezed. CBI also seized a dump of 15 email accounts, illuminating the intricate web of deceit spun by the accused.”

“The illegal call centers impacted more than 2,000 Amazon and Microsoft customers primarily based in the US, but also in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, and the UK,” Amazon says in a blog post.

“This collaboration marks the first time Microsoft and Amazon have joined forces to combat tech support fraud,” Microsoft’s Amy Hogan-Burney writes in a blog post. “We firmly believe that partnerships like these are not only necessary but pivotal in creating a safer online ecosystem and in extending our protective reach to a larger number of individuals.”

Amazon has also poured extensive resources into combating counterfeit products on its store, announcing the Counterfeit Crimes Unit in 2020 to help lead the charge. And Microsoft fights online crime through its work with its Digital Crimes Unit.