Computer virus scam through phishing emails: Montpellier company caused nearly 3,500 victims and damage of €1 million

The scammers make victims believe that their computer is infected with a virus and requires repairs ranging from 150 to 1,500 euros. The company supporting this scam is based in the Cevennes district of Montpellier. Specialized investigators from the judicial police worked over a period of two and a half years to dismantle this organization. The case was recently decided before the Judicial Court in Paris.

The scam was massive, especially for victims who were not computer savvy. By clicking on a phishing email, they saw a pop-up telling them their computer was blocked and infected with a virus. Panicked, they called the indicated number, supposedly to put them in touch with a technician. Then the trap was closed. On the other end of the line, someone, with alarmist rhetoric, gave instructions on how to control his device remotely, then explained that he would have to clean the device to remove the virus. “In exchange for this cleaning operation, the victim was offered a assistance contract worth between 150 and 1,500 euros, explaining that if she participated in it, repairs to her system would be free.”A Montpellier detective explains.

Victims saw this window appear on their computers, with a number to call to reach technical support.
Screenshot – DIPN 34

Most of the victims are over 60 years old

Between June and October 2020, this scam organized by a company based in Montpellier, in the Cevennes region, claimed nearly 3,500 victims, in France and abroad, the vast majority of whom were over 60 years old (the oldest was 97 years old), including: That's about fifteen years. Herault. Size of damage: approximately one million euros. The case was decided from May 13 to 28 before the Paris Judicial Court. Fourteen persons appeared, among whom was young Montpellier, who was a candidate for this company. The main organizers are four French-Tunisian brothers, some of whom live in Perpignan. Imprisonment sentences ranging from six to eight years were sought against them. The decision is expected to be issued on the 1stany Next July.

Investigation by specialized digital police officers

At the beginning of October 2020, the government's Cybermalveillance platform was launched

The Cybercrime Department of the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office has been alerted, thanks to reports from victims. In turn, the Public Prosecution arrested members of the Lyon Police (Digital Operational Investigation Laboratory), attached to the Hérault Regional Directorate of Judicial Police, in order to investigate the Montpellier company. In just four months and with just one employee, she achieved sales worth one million euros… As the search began, the young manager presented himself to the judicial police in Montpellier: he feared that he himself had been manipulated into committing fraudulent activities. He was placed in police custody and then referred to the Paris Judicial Court to be charged as part of a judicial investigation.

50 companies responsible for collecting and laundering money After a letter of request from the Parisian judge in charge of the case, two Lyon-de-Montpellier police officers will spend two and a half years investigating this network.“hard work” Someone, describing an unusual relationship, says,

“By the number of victims, but also by the companies that participated in the fraud. We have identified fifty of them, residing in France, other European countries and in Canada. They were responsible for collecting and laundering the fraudulently obtained funds.”

Twelve people were arrested, and three others were targeted with a search warrant Investigations revealed that two of the accused reside in Tunisia.“One of them ran at least four call centres, which were contacted by victims, and the other, his wife, was actively involved in laundering fraudulently raised funds.”

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“, specifies the Montpellier investigator. He and his colleague also discovered that similar facts, relating to ordinary suspects, were the subject of an investigation conducted by Nancy's PJ. Since then the judge decided to join the two files. In total, twelve people were arrested in France and brought to justice. In Tunisia, three others are subject to an international search warrant.

Montpellier investigators will identify 900 complaints submitted by victims. Together with those recorded by the judicial police of Nancy, the total number rises to 1,700. The centralization of reports thanks to the Cybermalveillance platform, as well as the meticulous work carried out by the police, made it possible to bring this case to a successful conclusion.

cybermalveillance.gouv.fr

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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