Apr 052014

In light of the number of calls and emails I have received in the last few weeks from many people regarding people telephoning them claiming to be from Microsoft and able to detect that you PC has a virus and that if you let these callers have access to your PC they can cure it for a small fee, this news item may be of interest.

Just a shame his sentence is “suspended”.

A man who ran a Microsoft computer scam tricking people into paying for free anti-virus software has received a suspended four-month jail sentence.

Mohammed Khalid Jamil, 34, from Luton, hired people at an Indian call centre to falsely tell victims their computers had a serious problem.

The targets would be charged between £35 and £150 for software Microsoft made available for free.

As well as the suspended sentence, Jamil was ordered to pay a £5,000 fine.

He must also pay £5,665 compensation and £13,929 in prosecution costs.

The decision has been hailed as a “landmark” case by Trading Standards.

“We believe it may be the first ever successful prosecution of someone involved in the Microsoft scam in the UK,” said Lord Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board, which oversees the work of the National Trading Standards e-crime team.

“It’s an important turning point for UK consumers who have been plagued by this scam, or variants of it, for several years.

“Many have succumbed to it, parting with significant sums of money, their computers have been compromised and their personal details have been put at risk.

“Now that one of the many individuals who’ve been operating this scam has been brought to justice, it’s a stark warning to anyone else still doing it that they can be caught and will be prosecuted.”

Remote access

Jamil had set up Luton-based company Smart Support Guys, which employed people based in India to cold-call Britons and claim to be working for Microsoft.

The victims, unaware of the scam, would offer remote access to the fraudsters – meaning their computers could be controlled from a different location.

Once given this access, targets’ computers would be made less secure, at which point the scammers would offer, in return for a fee, to install software to fix the problem.

The software installed was available for free on Microsoft’s website.

In court, Jamil admitted to unfair trading by allowing his staff to make false claims regarding computer support services.

He claimed he had tried but failed to control call centre staff and not adequately supervised them.

His jail term is suspended for 12 months.