Skip to content
Naked Security Naked Security

Elderly victims conned out of millions by tech support scammer

The FTC has been battling tech support scams for years, especially ones targeting older citizens who are seen by fraudsters everywhere as susceptible to these cons.

The Federal Trade Commisson has issued a $7.5 million (£5.7 million) fine against alleged tech support scammer Parmjit Singh Brar for channelling payments taken during a long list of frauds against US citizens.
A lot of money, of course, although the fact that Brar will only pay $136,000 of it upfront in a settlement because of an inability to pay the rest, takes the edge off its pain somewhat.
The FTC has also barred Brar from “marketing, promoting, or offering tech support services” for life.
Brar carried this out through two companies, Genius Technologies and Avangatee Services (not to be confused with Avangate), from September 2015 onwards.
The complaint lists a series of huge payments from unnamed (mostly ageing) individuals, including wired payments of $79,998 and $59,998, and signed cheques from unnamed victims of $19,998 (for “internet repair”), $41,998 (for “computer security”), and $22,000 (for “computer support”).
In some cases, Brar’s companies were said to have banked large sums from the same people on the same day – $9,949 and $9,940 from one, and $14,999.99 and $13,000, and $23,999 and $26,000 from two others.
Occasionally, relatives or carers of the defrauded victims noticed what was going on and decided to intervene, as the case notes explain:

In March 2017, a police officer in Michigan contacted Defendant Brar demanding restitution in the amount of $29,998 for an elderly consumer who had fallen victim to the tech support scheme. In response to that demand, Defendant Brar complied and sent the consumer a cashier’s check for the requested amount.

The scams worked like this: Indian telemarketers would contact victims by phone or via pop-up web ads, and would talk their prey into paying to solve fictitious problems affecting their computers.
Often, the fraudsters pretended to be from well-known companies and would attempt to gain remote access to peoples’ computers, a ruse to install out-of-date AV or to rummage for personal data.
If the victim seemed gullible, they’d receive follow-up calls where the same tricks would be repeated.
It’s a well-trodden path to riches for scammers which in this case is believed to have resulted in millions being lifted from victims. The alleged role of Brar’s companies was to act as a US point for receiving payments.
The FTC has been battling tech support scams for years, especially ones targeting older citizens who are seen by fraudsters everywhere as susceptible to these cons.
This has resulted in around 500 cases being lodged in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel since 2013.
Is the campaign working? You could argue the toss either way. On the one hand, the agency has recently pursued a long list of alleged scammers, but the real battle will always be how many of these end up with the US Department of Justice seeking criminal penalties.
Only when more tech support scammers end up behind bars will the message start get through.


I love when these guys call. I have been in IT for a couple of decades now and I keep them on the line as long as I can. As they say; Time is Money and I am going to waste as much of their time as I have to spend playing with them. I had one really worried when I started yelling that what they made me do started smoke out of my tower. They hung up pretty quick after that.


I once had a so-called MicroSoft Tech phone me a couple of years ago. I had a blast with him. First I pretended in an old lady’s voice that I didn’t know what a computer was. He tried to explain that he needed me to let him take over my computer so he could fix it. He went over and over trying to explain what a computer was, etc., etc. I “played” with him for several minutes, acting more and more dense about computers, life in general. He then decided he could scam me by becoming my boyfriend and con me out of $$$ . Again I “played” with him for a couple minutes, then I reverted to my normal voice, screamed Loudy “SCAMMER” and slammed the receiver down. Now I’m waiting for the scammer who says one of my grandchildren is arrested and needs bail money.


I am so glad that you are putting this in the news. I was scammed and I reported it to the FTC. I did get a refund, but they have tried again numerous times and now I know how to shut them down. Thank you for letting the public know, especially the elderly.


The reason this scam works became painfully clear when my late Father-in-law was well into his 80s. Dementia was taking hold and what had been a competent engineer who was good with computers fell for the “your computer is sending a virus” scam. We live in a different state but fortunately my wife’s brother lived in the area and was able to straighten out the mess and recover most of the losses. However, for weeks afterward we received several calls per week from people trying to pull the same thing on us. My guess is the scammer had pulled the address book from my Father-in-Law’s computer and added our number to the hit list.
People who have older friends and relatives should not fall into the “they would never fall for that” mindset – I was stunned at the news. He KNEW better than that… and yet it happened. Dementia changes everything and it isn’t always obvious when it starts taking hold.


It is about time that a situation as serious as this, but is just being looked into. The IRS scammers, as well as the school refund they tried it on me several times, but I refused to fall for it. I told them to keep it.


I totally get what Wilbur is saying. My father was exactly the same. He was fine until XP got superceded and in his younger years as an engineer had been able to use all sorts of computer languages such as Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, Basic etc. When I got a call I was really puzzled as to why Apple would be using a Microsoft system to sort out a problem and the guy was really angry and abusive when I questioned it saying I must be stupid if I couldn’t understand why it was needed. I did get an address out of him but, needless to say, it didn’t exist. As for the tax refund email scam, the funny thing there was they were saying I was due a bigger refund than my tax bill had been that year! Ha, ha.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to get the latest updates in your inbox.
Which categories are you interested in?
You’re now subscribed!