AFP warns of tech support scams after warrants in Wollongong

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is warning the public to carefully vet who they allow to remotely access their computers, following a search warrant in Wollongong as part of a cybercrime investigation into an alleged fraudulent technical support business.

Operation Rayko is a cybercrime investigation into an Australian business that purports to offer genuine Microsoft technology support to Australian customers.

AFP Commander Goldsmid said the company has a professional website, an Australian 1800 business number and uses Microsoft logos to give its operations an air of legitimacy.

Police allege the business instead linked Australian victims to offshore scammers who would request remote access to their computers.

Once the scammers had access to the computer, they would convince their victims to purchase new software to fix genuine computer issues. That software was outdated and sold at an inflated price.

During the remote access the scammers also deactivated antivirus software and other programs designed to protect the victim’s computer from malicious software and further unauthorised remote access.

Commander Goldsmid said the public needs to be aware of the risks associated with unlicensed businesses and careful vet who they allow to access their computers.

“In this instance the offending involved charging victims for products they didn’t need, and products the business was not authorised to sell,” Commander Goldsmid said.

“However, the consequences can be much worse – allowing scammers access to your computer may put you at risk of malware, computer viruses or even the theft of your identification details and sensitive personal information via remote access that can occur without your knowledge.

“It just goes to show that scams have evolved, they’re not as obvious as an email from a Nigerian prince anymore. Modern-day scammers are very technologically savvy and they will exploit victims’ trust in respected institutions to gain a profit.”

During the warrant AFP investigators seized documents and electronic devices which will be subject to analysis by AFP Cybercrime Operations. The investigation is ongoing and the AFP is not ruling out charges as a result of the search warrant activity.

As part of Operation Rayko, the AFP worked closely with Microsoft to gather information about the products being sold and offshore entities linked to the Australian business.

Police are assessing evidence seized and will continue to work with Microsoft and IDCARE to determine how many Australian customers may have been affected by these types of scams.

Assistant General Counsel and Regional Lead, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit Asia, Mary Jo Schrade said technical support scams have become all too common across the industry, affecting many of Microsoft’s customers worldwide, including in Australia. Partnerships between the public and private sector are critical to fighting the problem.

“We are proud to work with the Australian Federal Police in this effort. People who believe they are victims of scams conducted in the name of Microsoft or its partners can help us stop these fraudsters by reporting the details of their interaction using this form: Microsoft-Report a technical support scam

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