Great news in the fight against Internet scammers. The U.S. government had seized six websites that were part of a scheme designed to trick Amazon customers into buying unnecessary service to set up their Amazon Echo speakers.

The crooks posted images of Echo devices and claimed to help Amazon customers “activate” their speakers. They also had links to download an Alexa app.

Unlucky users who clicked on the link saw a fake download process that ended with an error message and a prompt to call a number for technical support.

Fake Tech Support

Folks who called the number spoke to fake technicians who took remote control of their computers and claimed their were technical issues on the computers causing the Alexa issues. These crooks would sell fake computer services to people. The scammers charged $99 for a two-year plan and $149 for a four-year plan. Amazon doesn’t charge customers anything to assist in setting up Echo speakers.

 “Internet-based fraud schemes are challenging for law enforcement as they typically involve an organized group of con artists scattered around the world,” said William Mack, U.S. Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge of the Tyler Resident Office. “The success of this investigation was the direct result of investigative actions taken by the Secret Service and the Department of Justice.  The Secret Service will continue to strengthen our partnerships between the public and private sector, our law enforcement colleagues, and the Department of Justice.  The Secret Service will continue to lead the fight against cyber-enabled fraud and hold accountable all those who seek to exploit U.S. citizens for their own illicit gain.”

Dos and Don’ts

The Justice Department made these suggestion to protect yourself against scammers.             

  • Before purchasing products or services to support electronic devices, check with the actual manufacturer or provider of those devices to determine whether those services are legitimate or necessary.
  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources.
  • Do not download software to allow unknown or unverified sources to access your computers or your devices.
  • Do not purchase services from telemarketers or online marketers when the solicitation lacks a written description of the services provided and for which no business address is provided.