Two tech-support scammers arrested for allegedly stealing $10 million from over 7,500...

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Romana Leyva, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Ariful Haque, 33, of Bellerose, New York were arrested on September 18 and charged with one count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

It’s alleged that the pair used the old but still popular technique of utilizing malicious websites to show pop-up ads that falsely warn people their computers are infected with viruses, malware, adware, etc., and that the only way to fix them is to call the fake tech support number, where operators charge for a repair service that doesn’t do anything.

These fees, which came as yearly, lifetime, or one-time payments, ranged from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

"In at least some instances, the pop-up threatened victims that, if they restarted or shut down their computer, it could 'cause serious damage to the system' including 'complete data loss'," states the court documents.

Sometimes the victims were scammed twice. After paying the initial fees, scammers made follow-up calls to the victims claiming the original support company had gone out of business. A refund was offered, but it was later claimed that an error had occurred and too much had been paid back. Victims were then asked to send in the difference using gift cards. Similar ‘overpayment’ tricks are common in work-from-home, vehicle rental, and home buying scams.

Of the 7,500+ victims who fell for the scam, the vast majority were elderly users who wouldn’t have realized they were being deceived.

Leyva and Haque, who allegedly set up companies to receive the payments and recruited others into the scam, are now awaiting trial.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that 281 people had been arrested in an operation targeting email scammers.

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Mike E

TS Rookie
I'd also like to add that for the elderly, Linux is a much better option than Windows.

Actually, Linux is a good option for nearly everyone.
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
I'd also like to add that for the elderly, Linux is a much better option than Windows. Actually, Linux is a good option for nearly everyone.
Nope, it's not. You can find some excellent distros, like Linux Mint with Cinnamon, but it's still not on par with Windows for an average user. There's actually less free apps for Linux than for Windows. Sounds incredible, but it's true. Of course, if you're counting only the good and usable apps.

And regarding security, most of Linux distros are now equally insecure as Windows. For example, on most of them you can't switch of Bluetooth from GUI. You have to hack it to switch it off. Why is that important? Because BT is one of the hacking holes on cellphones, laptops and other devices. Except in moments where you really need it, your Bluetooth should be always off.

Also, so many open-source software have deliberate holes inserted, that you can't say anymore that Linux is safer than Windows. It's not, unless you're a top sysadmin or hacker who knows all the tricks. But that doesn't describe a typical computer user.
 
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Theeve1966

TS Rookie
This is just my opinion and many might not agree, but I think a very appropriate punishment would be for every single member of each of the scammer's families should lose every penny they have, along with the scammers, of course. I don't believe for one second that these people work alone, that their families don't know what they are doing, and also benefit from all the money these morons steal from the vulnerable elderly people. So, I want THEM to know what it feels like to have your loved one lose all of their life savings. Every member of their families should go dead broke, so they get just a taste of what they're doing. To me, IMO, that is justice.
 

arrowflash

TS Booster
I'd also like to add that for the elderly, Linux is a much better option than Windows. Actually, Linux is a good option for nearly everyone.
Nope, it's not. You can find some excellent distros, like Linux Mint with Cinnamon, but it's still not on par with Windows for an average user. There's actually less free apps for Linux than for Windows. Sounds incredible, but it's true. Of course, if you're counting only the good and usable apps.

And regarding security, most of Linux distros are now equally insecure as Windows. For example, on most of them you can't switch of Bluetooth from GUI. You have to hack it to switch it off. Why is that important? Because BT is one of the hacking holes on cellphones, laptops and other devices. Except in moments where you really need it, your Bluetooth should be always off.

Also, so many open-source software have deliberate holes inserted, that you can't say anymore that Linux is safer than Windows. It's not, unless you're a top sysadmin or hacker who knows all the tricks. But that doesn't describe a typical computer user.
I fully agree with you that nowadays there's more quality freeware/open source software on Windows than Linux (this wasn't true 10 or 15 years ago, but today it is), and that current Linux distributions have some serious security issues.

However I'd still say that basic users with little computer literacy are definitely still safer on Linux - even if only because most attacks / malicious scripts / etc. target Windows because it's what the vast majority uses. I bet most of these scammers who remotely access PCs don't even know how to use Linux desktop. The lack of apps compared to Windows is hardly a problem for basic elderly users, since almost all of their computer activity is done on the web browser, with maybe occasional use of an office suite (with OpenOffice/LibreOffice or even online browser-based Google Docs more than supplying any need they might have) or a pdf viewer.
 

Yynxs

TS Addict
I love these guys. I was short on time one day and waiting for a call from the vet about the wife's cat. I picked up the landline instead of checking the Caller ID and got one of these guys telling me my computer was infected. I said, "You do know you've dialed the local FBI office right? Hey Bill, come over here, you're gonna love this. They dialed the FBI and they're trying to run a scam. Dana! Dana! You gotta hear this.!"
They hung up. I didn't get another call on that land line for three years until I switched carriers after moving to a new state. Sometimes I miss them.