Justice Division seizes web sites used to trick Amazon clients into shopping for machine tech help

Guests to the fraudulent web sites will obtain this message. (U.S. Dept. of Justice Picture)

Federal officers have seized six fraudulent web sites that had been a part of an internet scheme to deceive clients who had been trying to arrange new Amazon Echo units.

The U.S. Attorneys Workplace for the Jap District of Texas announced the investigation and seizure on Monday, led by the U.S. Secret Service and the Division of Justice.

The seized web sites contained images of Amazon Echo sensible audio system and purported to supply providers to assist Amazon clients activate their units. The web sites had hyperlinks to “download” the Alexa app, however as a substitute simulated a phony download and returned an error message regarding a “failed download.” The websites then prompted clients to name particular phone numbers for technical help with the appliance.

The DOJ reported that so-called “technicians” working for the web site operators would take distant management of the purchasers’ computer systems and persuade them that there have been “technical issues” that prevented their Echo units from working correctly.

No such points existed, and clients had been duped into buying pc providers to repair the fictional points. The phony technicians charged clients — $99 for a two-year plan or $149 for a four-year plan — for otherwise-free and pointless steps like registering the Alexa software program or offering community safety.

U.S. Lawyer Stephen J. Cox mentioned the matter was referred to the Division of Justice by Amazon, and mentioned working with the corporate was step one towards “holding the wrongdoers accountable.”

Amazon is more and more taking its personal steps to crack down on fraud. In Could, the corporate filed suit against companies in Washington state and India, alleging that they tricked new customers of Echo audio system and different Alexa units into paying for purported technical help. Different actions by the corporate have focused every thing from fraudulent email campaigns to get-rich-quick scams to fake customer reviews to sales of knock-off products.

Earlier this 12 months Amazon launched its “Project Zero” anti-counterfeit program designed to assist manufacturers struggle faux merchandise.

Amazon says clients ought to report unsolicited emails and texts here, and the corporate has extra details about decoding suspicious emails, cellphone calls, and webpages here.

The DOJ recommends a couple of steps customers can observe to safeguard towards such fraud schemes:

  • Earlier than buying services or products to help digital units, test with the precise producer or supplier of these units to find out whether or not these providers are professional or crucial.
  • Don’t click on on hyperlinks or open e-mail attachments from unknown or unverified sources.
  • Don’t download software program to permit unknown or unverified sources to entry your computer systems or your units.
  • Don’t buy providers from telemarketers or on-line entrepreneurs when the solicitation lacks a written description of the providers offered and for which no enterprise deal with is offered.

“Internet-based fraud schemes are challenging for law enforcement as they typically involve an organized group of con artists scattered around the world,” William Mack, U.S. Secret Service resident agent answerable for the Tyler, Texas, Resident Workplace, mentioned in a press release. “The Secret Service will continue to lead the fight against cyber-enabled fraud and hold accountable all those who seek to exploit U.S. citizens for their own illicit gain.”

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