AUSTIN, Texas — Watch out for people promising computer repairs over the internet.
The Texas Attorney General Office’s filed a lawsuit claiming two men posed as different security experts and encouraged people to spend hundreds of dollars for services they didn’t need.
The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, shows Sahil Miglani and Harneet Oberoi used their businesses “We Brand Better, LLC” and “Latitude Solutions” to operate a “sophisticated scheme” throughout Texas and the United States to deceive and scare people into paying for unnecessary computer services.
Court records show the men would represent they were affiliated with companies like Microsoft, Apple and Dell.
Here’s how the lawsuit shows the scheme worked:
- “Defendants typically initiate contact with consumers, including consumers located in Travis County, TX, through deceptive pop-up ads that trick consumers into calling Defendants' boiler rooms.”
- Defendants' telemarketers deliver a sales pitch designed to convince the consumer that his or her computer is in urgent need of repair, even though Defendants have not detected an actual problem
- Defendants represent that they are running a series of diagnostic evaluations.
- Defendants often use standard system information tools in the Windows operating system. Such tools include the System Configuration tool, the Event Viewer, or the Command Prompt, each of which displays certain innocuous information about a consumer's computer.
- In many instances, Defendants claim that the consumer has been hacked and purport to show the consumer "evidence" of intruders accessing the consumer's computer.
- For example, using the Command Prompt displayed above, Defendants commonly represent that the information in the column under "Foreign Address" shows the presence of hackers from foreign countries. In fact, the "netstat" command that Defendants run in the Command Prompt will always display a "Foreign Address," and does not indicate the presence of hackers.
- Similarly, Defendants will often point out that the System Configuration tool as displayed above shows numerous "stopped" services. Defendants often represent that these are security services that have been stopped and that the hackers who have connected to the consumer's computer have stopped these services. In fact, all Windows installations come with services that are, by default, stopped in order to preserve computing resources.
The KVUE Defenders told you about a similar scheme last year. Authorities said it’s hard to track scams like these because it often involves foreign governments.
“They had remote access. They basically had full access to my computer. They would move my cursor and do all of these different things” Giovanna De Leon said.
De Leon isn't connected to the lawsuit, but told us of her scam last year.
“I didn’t really expect my case to go any further, but seeing this and it’s so similar, almost identical, to what happened to me is a huge relief,” De Leon said.
De Leon did not lose any money but filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The state seeks to sue Miglani and Oberoi for more than $1 million.
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