What happens when you’re browsing on your computer and suddenly, a huge pop-up window appears and tells you that you have a major virus on your computer? Many people have had this happen to them at some point in the past. Sometimes, the best reaction when a pop-up appears is to simply turn off and reboot your computer. However, many have fallen prey to the doomsday warnings of the pop-up, and called a number listed for “tech support” in order to rid their computer of the virus. In the case of the 40,000 people who happened to contact a tech support company called Client Care Experts from 2013-2016, they may have been part of a $25 million fraud.
Tech Support Fraud in Florida
The alleged international tech support scam that generated about $25 million over three years had a home base in South Florida. Several of the men who were indicted on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud were from Palm Beach and Broward counties. In fact, of the 17 total under indictment, 14 of them were from South Florida counties. Ten of those men have pleaded guilty, and two have already been sentenced. One New Jersey man was sentenced to one year in prison and over $20,000 in restitution, and the other man from Lake Worth was sentenced to a year and a half in prison and over $3,000 in restitution.
How the Fraud Occurred
In November 2013, the men owned a company called First Choice Tech Support, which changed its name to Client Care Experts in 2015. Its headquarters was in Pompano Beach and before moving to Boynton Beach. Two of the men involved in the scheme also owned ABC Repair Tech in Costa Rica. The companies were the type that found financial success in the scheme of causing a problem and then providing frustrated consumers with a “fix” to the problem.
In the case of this fraud scheme, the Client Care Experts company would freeze unsuspecting users’ computers with a pop-up add that would warn of a major virus attacking the computer. Usually, this freeze was triggered by something the user did like misspell a website URL. If the user did not know to simply shut down the computer, they may have been compelled to call a number listed on the screen for “tech support.” Unfortunately, the number would take them to a salesperson with Client Care who may convince them to purchase very expensive software to rid the computer of the virus.
The “Level One Diagnostic Technician,” as the salesperson was called, would read from a script and would request remote access to the computer. They would blame a fictional virus as the issue and state that the computer needed immediate care. Instead of offering a reboot as a remedy, the “technician” would suggest a tune-up for $250, and/or a virus software for $400; high mark-ups considering the company had only paid about $8 per copy of the software.
Unfortunately, over 40,000 people fell for the scam across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.K. and several other countries, losing $25 million by purchasing fake virus software. Now, the men who devised the scam may spend time in prison and be forced to pay back much of the money they illegally obtained.
In the event that you are arrested and accused of a crime such as wire fraud, it’s vitally important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you navigate the legal system and assist you in developing a defense strategy for your case.
Neal, D. J. (n.d.). Sure, your tech support exasperates, but this one got indicted in a $25 million fraud. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article212239024.html