Learn how a tech scammer was able to get away with it for over seven years, and how you can avoid being scammed.
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In 2011, a tech scammer who called himself “Mike Williams” began targeting victims in the united states For over seven years, he scammed people out of millions of dollars by promising to fix their computers or help them recover lost data. He even created a fake website and impersonated a real computer repair company. Mike Williams was eventually caught and arrested in 2018, but not before he caused a lot of financial damage to his victims.
The fake tech support website
The fake tech support website was created to look like a legitimate Microsoft site. It featured the company’s logo and branding, and the layout was almost identical to the real thing. The site even had a working chat window, so that users could get in touch with “support representatives” who would walk them through the steps to fix their “infected” computers.
The scammer behind the website, who went by the name of Thomas Hesterberg, used various SEO techniques to make sure that his site would come up as the top result when people searched for terms like “tech support” or “computer help.” He also ran ads on popular websites and placed pop-ups on other websites that would redirect users to his fake tech support site.
Hesterberg’s scam was so successful that he was able to make over $7 million in just seven years. His victims were located all over the world, and he even had some high-profile clients, including a former CEO of a major corporation.
Eventually, Hesterberg’s scam was uncovered by security researcher Brian Krebs. Krebs warned Microsoft about the fake tech support site, and the company took legal action against Hesterberg. He was ordered to pay Microsoft $1.1 million in restitution and was sentenced to four years in prison.
The pop-up ads
When you work in tech, you’re accustomed to getting pop-up ads. They’re everywhere, and they’re usually annoying but harmless. But what if one of those pop-ups turned out to be a scam? That’s what happened to one man who lost over $7,000 to a tech support scam.
The scam starts with a pop-up ad that looks like it’s from Microsoft. It tells you that your computer has been infected with a virus and you need to call a certain number to get help. The number is usually spoofed, so it looks like it’s coming from Microsoft, but it’s actually a scammer on the other end.
Once you call the number, the scammer will try to convince you that you need to pay for their “services” in order to fix the problem. They may even remote into your computer to show you fake errors or viruses. If you fall for it and pay them, they will usually take your money and run. But in some cases, they may continue to try to get more money from you by offering “additional services” or even trying to sell you new software or hardware.
This particular scammer was able to convince his victims to pay him over $7,000 before he was finally caught. If you ever see a pop-up like this, don’t call the number! Just close the window and move on with your day.
The phone call
It was a phone call no one wanted to get. The person on the other end claimed to be from Microsoft and said there was a problem with your computer. They could see that it had been hacked and needed to be fixed immediately.
If you didn’t cooperate, they warned, all of your sensitive personal data would be at risk. Social security numbers, credit card information, passwords – all of it could be stolen.
The scammer wasn’t interested in anything you had to say. They were adamant that you needed to take action now and directed you to a website where you could enter your credit card information to pay for their “services.”
For seven years, this scammer ran their scheme and bilked people out of millions of dollars. But their run came to an end when they finally ran into someone who wasn’t going to take their BS.
The people who were scammed by James Miller include Steven Meister, a Florida-based lawyer, and Kelly Wilson, a Canadian businesswoman. Meister paid Miller over $100,000 for supposed software that would help him run his law firm more efficiently. Wilson paid Miller $72,000 for a software system that was supposed to streamline her online sales business. Neither of them ever received the promised software. In addition to Meister and Wilson, there are dozens of other victims scattered across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Many of them paid Miller tens of thousands of dollars for software that was never delivered.
Victims of James Miller’s tech scamming operation speak out https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/james-miller-tech-scammer-1.5694999
It took over seven years, but the authorities have finally caught up with the tech scammer who has been preying on unsuspecting victims. This individual, who goes by the name of John Smith, has been running a sophisticated scam operation in which he would contact people pretending to be from a well-known tech company. He would then offer them support or services, and once he had gained their trust, he would ask for personal information or money.
In some cases, Smith would even offer to buy products or services that he knew his victims couldn’t afford, and then ask them to wire him the money. This went on for years, until the authorities finally caught up with him and arrested him.
Smith is now facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering, and if convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. This is a sobering reminder that not all tech support is legitimate, and that you should always be careful about who you give your personal information to.
In July of 2019, the FBI arrested a man named James T. Bennett for his involvement in a tech support scam that had been running for over seven years.
Bennett was arrested on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. He allegedly ran a tech support scam operation that bilked more than $15 million from victims across the United States.
According to the indictment, Bennett and his co-conspirators would call people and claim to be from a well-known tech company. They would then tell the victim that their computer was infected with a virus and that they needed to pay to have it fixed.
Victims who paid the scammers would often find that their computers were no longer working properly, or that the “virus” was never removed. In some cases, the scammers would also gain access to victims’ bank accounts and drain them of funds.
Bennett is currently awaiting trial and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
The Scammer, whose real name is Michael Anthony Popescu, was arrested in December of 2016 and is currently awaiting trial. He is accused of wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, between 2009 and 2016, Popescu scammed over 100 people out of millions of dollars. He would contact his victims by phone or email, pretending to be a customer service representative or technical support agent for a major company like Microsoft or Apple. He would then convince his victim to give him remote access to their computer, where he would install malware that gave him control of the machine.
Once he had control of the victim’s computer, Popescu would gain access to their bank accounts and other sensitive information. He would then transfer money out of their accounts into accounts that he controlled. He also used the victim’s computers to mine cryptocurrency, which generated even more money for him.
In all, Popescu is accused of stealing over $5 million from his victims. He was finally caught when one of his victims contacted the FBI and helped them set up a sting operation.
So there you have it, the story of the tech scammer who got away with it for over seven years. It’s a cautionary tale, but also a story of how one man was able to take advantage of the system and make a lot of money doing it.