SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office is joining a nationwide crackdown on fraudsters who try to trick consumers into buying costly tech support and repair services.
Utah, in coordination with attorneys general from across the country through the National Association of Attorneys General, has joined the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other regulators to combat tech support scams, according to a press release from the state attorney general’s office.
As part of that effort, the attorneys general and the Justice Department announced a sweep of elder fraud cases and focused particular attention on tech support scams as a major threat to senior citizens.
These scams work in similar ways. Scammers use phone calls and online ads resembling security alerts from major technology companies to trick consumers into contacting the operators of these schemes and providing access to the consumers’ computers.
The scammers will claim consumers’ computers are infected with viruses or experiencing other problems. They then try to pressure consumers into buying unnecessary computer repair services, service plans, anti-virus protection or software, and other products and services.
“We are sending a clear message to scammers that Utah will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these types of frauds,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said in the press release. “Locally, we are fortunate to partner with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection on the front line of stopping scammers.”
In Utah, the Attorney General’s Office collaborated with partners in the tech world regarding computer fraud schemes targeting consumers in the state.
Tech company representatives informed investigators that fraudulent businesses, claiming to be affiliated with computer support companies, were contacting computer users via pop-ups and malware, informing them that multiple viruses were found on their computer when in fact, their computers were fine.
These criminals would then take over the consumers computer and steal personal information, placing viruses and malware on the computers and then charging to fix the problems.
During the joint investigation, which lasted more than a year, investigators identified multiple businesses using this fraud scheme. The team used covert investigative methods to reveal the location of these illegitimate businesses. In some cases, the Attorney General’s Office had partners wit global resources available to contact and shut down these schemes.
In addition to Utah, other state participants included Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington D.C.