In May 2013, the FTC settled with two of the alleged scammers -- getting just $3,000 from one but a $964,000 judgment out of another -- and will announce a third later today, an agency spokesman said.
But the scams persist, signaling the difficulty regulators have in playing Whac-a-Mole, where for every suppressed fraudster, one or more new operators pop up.
The Computerworld reader who admitted falling for a scam said that the purported technician gave an email address associated with Liz Infotech, a company based in Kolkata, India, a known hub for support scammers. Searches on Google revealed numerous complaints of bogus support calls from people who said they worked for Liz InfoTech.
A WordPress blog titled "Liz Infotech Scam Free" purported to be the company's response to claims that it duped consumers. "Some competitor companies envy Liz Infotech Pvt. Ltd. due to the huge success it created by the hard work of its founder and all the people behind it," the blog stated.
Firms linked to scams have frequently asserted their innocence, saying others were masquerading as their employees, or that rogue workers exceeded their mandate.
The phone number captured by Computerworld reader Walmsley has also often been associated with other reports of fraud. Online searches found scores of complaints of fake support scams originating from that telephone number. It is possible to spoof a Caller ID number, even if the call actually comes from outside the U.S.
The FTC has urged consumers not to cede control of their PCs to any caller, never to give out credit card or other personal information, or to simply hang up on such calls, as did Walmsley.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com. See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com. Read more about cybercrime and hacking in Computerworld's Cybercrime and Hacking Topic Center.