Elderly Aussie Charged for Part in Ransomware Tech Support Scam

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A 75-year-old Australian man has been charged with money laundering offenses in connection with a tech support ransomware scam worth over AU$1 million (£590K, $762K).

The Queensland resident was arrested last Friday and will appear in court on August 3, according to Queensland Police.

The suspect is alleged to have set up three companies – JC Enterprising, JC Web Creations and ITZ Services – between February 2015 and July 2017 to help launder funds from victims of the scam.

An overseas company is said to have been behind the campaign, which would involve cold calling targets and tricking them into believing they had computer problems, before securing remote access to the victim’s machine and then downloading ransomware.

The ransomware lock screen allegedly told victims to pay into a bank account linked to the coastal city of Mackay, which sits between Cairns and Brisbane.

Detectives apparently searched several post boxes in the city, and found multiple items of mail addressed to the 75-year-old's fake companies.

Detective Inspector Nikki Colfs of Mackay Crime and Support Services, urged users to be on the alert for unsolicited calls.

“If anyone receives an unexpected call from someone and feels that something isn’t right, simply hang up,” she added in a statement.

“Under no circumstances should people download software to their computer in this sort of scenario.”

Tech support scams are an age-old tactic used by cyber-criminals to extort money from users and/or get malware onto their machines.

New data released by Eset last October revealed a 10% rise in 'fake alert' scams designed to trick the victim into believing they have malware on their machine.

Ransomware-slingers have gone to increasing lengths to get their malware onto users’ PCs.

In the UK earlier this year, fraudsters called up schools pretending to be Department for Education officials in an attempt to get the email addresses of head teachers to send 'sensitive information' to.

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