Tech support scammers preying on young people, study finds

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Net Patrol International Inc.  Data Investigation and Forensic Services
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

How easily are computer users fooled by bogus technical support scams? A new study from Microsoft suggests the chances of losing money when encountering this kind of scam are a surprising – and shocking – one in five. The firm questioned 12,000 people who’d run into tech support cons in 12 countries (1,000 per country) uncovering marked national variations in susceptibility.


Graphic by Microsoft News.

Canada one of the most resistant nations

Around 13% of 18 to 24-year-olds across the world have lost money to online and telephone scams over the past year, rising to one-in-five people in the 25 to 34 age group, according to Microsoft’s study, which looked at 12,000 people in 12 countries and was released as part of Cyber Security Awareness Month. This compares with just 3% of people aged over 65. 

Top of the list is India, where 22% of those targeted fell for the ruse, with the US and China close behind on 21% and 16% respectively. Only 2% of Britons lost money, making them by some distance the most resistant nation of those studied, with Germany, Denmark, France and Canada also achieving low victim rates.


Graphic by Microsoft News.

Kind of scam with several forms

The oldest and simplest is where criminals cold call home users pretending to be from a legitimate company with the news that an infection has been ‘detected’ on their PC. There is no infection of course, but scammers will try to persuade users they should pay a fee of between $50 and $300 to clean up the non-existent problem, usually after taking remote control of their computer to generate false alerts.

Another variation involves computer pop-ups, which borrow tactics from the fake anti-virus industry to try and convince users they need to pay through the nose for remote tech support when all the users really end up with is an empty wallet.

Read more about tech support scammers at Naked Security.

This article is summarized by Canadian Fraud News.