Cybermalevolence. A “fake computer repair” fraud network dismantled
The authorities announced on Tuesday that they had dismantled a “false computer repair” fraud network.
“Initially, your computer receives a fraudulent email, which brings up a window (pop-up) telling you that your computer is blocked. To unlock it, you have to call a company supposedly approved by Microsoft, whose number appears, ”explained the head of the Financial Crime Division of the Territorial Directorate of the Judicial Police (DTPJ) of Montpellier, Caroline Belda. « If we call this number, we come across a service that closes the pop-up for you, takes control of your computer and makes you pay for its fake repair from a few hundred to 1,800 euros, » she explained.
Two companies based in Montpellier and Saint-Dié-des-Vosges
The dismantling of this network is the result of the joining of two investigations by the cyber section of the Paris prosecutor’s office. The first had been opened in October 2020 following a denunciation for cybermalevolence for facts in Montpellier and the second in November 2020 after 148 complaints from individuals. According to the investigations, the same teams managed two companies based in Montpellier (Hérault) and Saint-Dié-des-Vosges (Vosges). The call center was in Tunisia.
Seven people were arrested in Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales), Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), Istres and Martigues (Bouches-du-Rhône) and in the Paris region. Six of them were indicted on November 24 for « fraud, attempted fraud in an organized gang, criminal association, offenses related to the STAD (automated data processing system) and laundering of fraud in an organized gang » . Three were remanded in custody and three under judicial supervision.
4,000 victims identified
According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the damage is estimated at 1.2 million euros for 4,000 identified victims. Out of 2,200 potential victims contacted by the PJ of Montpellier, 884 answered in the affirmative and 534 filed a complaint, specified Caroline Belda, advising to obtain information on the official platform www.cybermalveillance.gouv.fr .
The Paris prosecutor’s office also points out that some victims of the first false computer repair say they have received a message stating that the courts have condemned the company and asking them to send a bank account statement (RIB) to obtain compensation. Some people, especially the elderly, have been trapped a second time.