Victim Location 46530
Type of a scam Tech Support
The following details were submitted to the FCC on January 7, 2016, and assigned reference number ***:
"I clicked on a sample video on a seemingly trustworthy website (Reynolds Golf Academy), and instantly had a pop-up screen warning of a serious threat from malware known as Koobface. The pop-up seemed to be from Apple (I use an iMac), and it warned that I should cease activity on the computer and immediately call for support. I suspected that it was bogus, but could not close the pop-up, and I didn’t have the Apple Support number handy. I decided to call the number given in the pop-up. A person answered and I immediately asked if I was speaking to an Apple Customer Support representative. He said yes. He explained that my problem was not a hardware problem, the Apple store could not deal with it, and my Apple Support had expired, so I would have to deal with a third party to eliminate the threat. He told me I would have to travel from South Bend to Indianapolis to find a "Level 5" technician, or I could deal with US Iguruz online for about the same price. At this point I was very suspicious, but the so-called Apple Support person showed me data supposedly from my computer showing that there were currently 25 people using my network account, and that many of them were "foreign." He presented me with a long list of things they could do for me, including removing the infection and all foreign addresses, "fix IP," "secure personal stuff," "fix devices," "securities," "7 layers of unbreakable network protection," and "free Apple care protection for 6 months." The price would be $355. He said this would all be documented by e-mail. I agreed to talk to US Iguruz, [supposedly based in Elmont, NY. They have a website that appears to represent a legitimate business]. I was transferred to a man calling himself Bill, the billing manager at Iguruz. I told him that I was still skeptical – I wasn’t sure I had been directed to him by Apple. He assured me that Iguruz was "Apple-certified." Only later did I call Apple Support with a legitimate number and learn that Apple has absolutely no affiliation with Iguruz, would never have caused a pop-up warning screen to appear on my computer, and would not have referred me to a third party. Iguruz is not "Apple-certified." But at the time I felt trapped, and agreed to have them work on it. They had me provide my checking account number and said they would bill me $355 plus tax, for a total of $399 (14% tax!). I was transferred to a technician assigned to do the work, who identified himself as Barry Allen. He spent about 40 minutes in control of my computer. I watched his activities, and there were long periods when nothing at all was happening. He seems to have done little more than install and run a free malware checking software (CCleaner), and a program called TeamViewer, which allowed his external control of my computer. Regarding each of the promises made: no documentation was e-mailed to me. As far as I can tell, seven layers of protection was an exaggeration. I have no “Apple Care” support contract with Apple. Not long after hanging up, I considered myself the victim of fraud, even though I had only my word to show it. I think these people planted the pop-up warning and then skillfully scared me into paying them for a service I didn’t need. I stopped payment from my bank. Now I am being harangued by a collection agency. I can’t imagine that the collectors don’t know about this scam. All of these people are at best unethical liars, and at worst frauds. I have wasted two full days changing passwords, my bank account, and my profiles on financially sensitive sites. I’m not done yet. Please help.”
Even if I was not convinced that Iguruz had defrauded me, I would still be angered by the excessive charge for their “services.” They told me to expect that they would be working to resolve the issue for about two hours. The amount of time spent on my issue was barely more than one hour, much of it apparently inactive, and the promised additional six months of service from Apple, supposedly worth $169, was not included.
I also submitted a similar report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. I have received no response from the FTC, and the ICCC informed me that, due to the volume of complaints they receive, it is very unlikely that they will address my case.
[Additional Notes February 26, 2016]
Maybe coincidentally, my WiFi became unreliable while all this was happening, and after consulting with the ATT technician, I had to replace my router. Also, perhaps as a result of my many efforts to encrypt and back up my data after the scam, my computer’s hard drive became inoperable a few days later. I was forced to buy a new computer.
I was then subjected to threatening calls, often two or three calls per day, for the next 6 weeks. Their messages usually began with something like “This is Investigator ____ of the Investigation Unit, calling to offer you an opportunity to resolve the pending county court issue with your name and social,” or “This is ______ of the LCS Mediations Division, calling regarding a complaint against your social security number.” These calls disguised their caller identification with varying bogus out-of-state phone numbers, but always gave the same callback number (317-730-6247). I returned the first two calls from LCS and got either silence or a very confusing rant about somebody with a name I didn’t recognize. After that, I never returned another call from a number I didn’t recognize. Since I could not block the calls, I was forced to change my phone number, and had to notify all friends, relatives, and many online accounts of the change. I estimate that I have spent 6 full days remedying this scam, and that doesn’t count many hours of anxiety and worry about the harassment.
An article appeared in the South Bend Tribune today, written by Dreama Jensen of the ScamPulse.com. It described an almost identical scam involving a locked-out computer, the Koobface worm, people posing as Apple representatives and trying to defraud the victim of $430. I went to the BBB’s Scam Tracker site and searched on the terms “koobface” and “tech support.” Five similar cases were returned.