FBI warns of scammers offering fraudulent tech services

FBI warns of scammers offering fraudulent tech services
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The FBI is warning of widespread scams in which criminals pose as security or tech professionals offering fraudulent technology support to victims for financial gain. 

The bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued an alert on the scams this week, warning of criminals offering fake tech services — such as help resolving compromised email — in order to gain access to would-be victims' electronic devices.

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The FBI said it received about 11,000 complaints related to tech support fraud last year, amounting to almost $15 million in losses, an 86 percent increase over the previous year. The complaints largely originated in the United States, but the FBI received reports from victims in a total of 85 different countries.

“Criminals may pose as a security, customer, or technical support representative offering to resolve such issues as a compromised e-mail or bank account, a virus on a computer, or to assist with a software license renewal,” the alert says. “Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchangers.”

According to the bureau, the criminals lure victims through telephone calls, online advertisements, pop-up messages and fraudulent emails warning of possible intrusions.

While criminals originally used these scams to export payments from their victims, the FBI warned that their efforts have expanded recently to include new techniques, including targeting virtual currency owners. Scammers have also posed as government or law enforcement officials in order to target past fraud victims, the alert says.