The Internet companies uncover 4,000 ad accounts using the names of 2,400 legitimate tech support businesses to trick people into downloading malicious software
Google and Facebook
are finding cunning scams in which shysters advertise 800 numbers for bogus tech support that typically leads to people giving up personal data and downloading malicious software.
The companies described the schemes in the first report published by TrustInAds.org, a nonprofit group launched this week by AOL, Facebook, Google and Twitter. The organization is dedicated to educating people about malicious Web advertisements and deceptive practices.
Tech support scams
were chosen for the subject of the group's debut report because of the craftiness of the fraudsters, Rob Haralson, executive director of TrustInAds.org, said Friday. Posing as a legitimate business and providing an 800 number in an online ad or related web page makes it difficult to identify the service as a scam.
"By doing it through an 800 number, it takes the scam offline, so for Google's (automated) systems and Facebook's too, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge to determine which tech support providers are legitimate and which ones are scammers," Haralson said.
Because of the difficulty in getting automated systems to detect the scams, Google will have employees call the posted numbers and pose as callers looking for tech support. Oftentimes, the numbers are to places outside the U.S.