Do you all get phone calls purporting to come from "Windows Support?"
A scammer who conned people with bogus Windows computer support calls has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay thousands of pounds in fines.
The prosecution is believed to be a first in the UK as the authorities finally take action against the plague of so-called 'Windows support scams'.
Mohammed Khalid Jamil, 34, from Luton, Bedfordshire, hired call-centre workers in India to cold call people in the UK and con them out of hundreds of pounds. The cold-callers told people their computers had serious faults that needed to be fixed, charging as much as £150 for the service. Police said many of the victims were elderly.
People tricked by the scam gave Indian call centre operators remote access to their computers but found that rather than fixing non-existent problems they actually removed security software. Jamil's company, Smart Support Guys, claimed to be a registered Microsoft partner, but a spokesperson for Microsoft confirmed this was not the case.
Jamil filed an early guilty plea and was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months and fined £5,000. He has also been ordered to pay £5,665 in compensation to his victims and £13,929 in prosecution costs.
Specialist e-crime investigators based in Yorkshire worked with trading standards, Action Fraud and local trading standards teams in Redcar and Cleveland to bring Jamil to justice. Rebecca Brown, prosecuting, explained that trading standards officers in Luton had warned Jamil about the conduct of one of his previous companies, Online PC Masters, in 2010.
"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," said Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board. "It’s an important turning point for UK consumers who have been plagued by this scam, or variants of it, for several years".
He added that the successful prosecution should act as "a stark warning" to anyone else carrying out similar scams.
Our sister title Computeractive recorded a call with similar Microsoft cold-call scammers in 2010. You can see what happened by watching the video below.