A UK SCAM FIGHTING AGENCY has put a soft shoe into a man whose company phoned people pretending to be Microsoft and sold them tools that are otherwise available for free.
The UK National Trading Standards Agency's e-crime unit (NTSA-ec) said that it has stepped on the group and prosecuted the head scammer.
The outfit, which called itself Smart Support Guys, was one of those gittish units that phone people at home with some spurious story about their PC's performance. If you have not had such a call, you might not have a home phone line.
The NTSA-ec chased down and oversaw the prosecution of Mohammed Khalid Jamil, it said in a statement.
Jamil has been sentenced to four months' porridge, suspended for a year, and fined £5,000. He was also told to pay £5,665 in compensation to victims and must kick in £13,929 in costs. Small change, maybe, for someone whose crimes were described in heinous terms.
"This is a landmark case, as we believe it may be the first ever successful prosecution of someone involved in the Microsoft scam in the UK. It's an important turning point for UK consumers who have been plagued by this scam, or variants of it, for several years," said Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board.
"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."
This "stark warning" is Jamil's second dance with the NTSA-ec and its rules on trading standards. In 2010 he and a company called Online PC Masters were taken to task by Luton based officers.
Victims in the Smart Support Guys scam were often elderly people, according to the NTSA-ec, and were taken for amounts ranging between £35 and £150 in bogus support charges. µ