The Economics of the Tech Support Scam

We have reported a few times about the tech support scammers who use cold-calling phone lists or browser pop-ups with 800 number “support” lines to trick people into paying $300 or more for “malware removal” and other services that the computer doesn’t need.  And the pop-ups can be scary and convincing as in the example image.

Naked Security recently reported on the work of researchers from Stony Brook University on how the tech support scam works from the scammers side, where these teams are located, what sort of software tools they use, how they monetize their activities, and how much money they make.

Using tactics such as “typo-squatting” or registering thousands of close misspelling of popular domain names (i.e. or Hosting their replica web pages on content delivery networks or hijacked websites and servers.  Using system events such as stopped services or drivers to confuse the victim into believing their system is infected or compromised.  Using legitimate remote access tools such as LogMeIn Rescue and Teamviewer to take control of the victim’s PCs, and then charging ridiculous amounts to install unnecessary software to clean the system.  They are raking in millions of dollars.

As we have said before, if this happens to you do not call the provided tech support number.  Call your regular tech support provider.  If they called you, please just hang up the phone.  Never give them (or anyone else who is calling you for that matter) your credit card number, or worse yet, bank routing and account numbers.

More information:


About the Author:

Cybersecurity guru to business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area. Computer security and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. In 2013 I completed a course of study and certification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). In 2016 I was certified as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of computer security, network security, and web site security. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. The views expressed on this Web site are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.