Two Americans used bogus virus-infection alerts to bilk $10m out of PC owners, it is alleged.
Romana Leyva, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Ariful Haque, 33, of Bellerose, New York, were each charged this week with one count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum of 20 years in the clink.
According to prosecutors in southern New York, Leyva and Haque masterminded a classic tech-support scam that warned netizens their computers were infected with malware that didn’t actually exist and would need a costly, and yet entirely unnecessary, repair.
We all know this type of scam: phony “system alert” pop-up ads in web browsers that try to scare punters into believing their machine is riddled with spyware, along with a phone number to call for “tech support” or a repair service that costs an arm and a leg – and doesn’t actually do anything useful.
“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’,” the prosecution wrote in its court [PDF] paperwork.