Man Who ‘Sold’ Free Microsoft Products Is Given Suspended Jail Sentence

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Luton resident Mohammed Khalid Jamil ran a Microsoft support scam out of a call centre in India

A man who tricked people into paying for an installation of free Microsoft software has been sentenced at York Crown Court.

Luton resident Mohammed Khalid Jamil ran a complex operation that involved staff at a call centre in India gaining remote access to the victims’ computers. He received a suspended four month prison sentence for unfair trading, and will have to pay a £5,000 fine, £5,665 in compensation and £13,929 in prosecution costs.

“This is a landmark case, as we believe it may be the first ever successful prosecution of someone involved in the Microsoft scam in the UK,” commented Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board. “Now that one of the many individuals who’ve been operating this scam has been brought to justice, it’s a stark warning to anyone else still doing it that they can be caught and will be prosecuted.”

windows-defenderCold-calling

Jamil had established a company in Luton called Smart Support Guys and contracted an Indian call centre to contact UK residents while pretending to represent Microsoft.

The ‘certified support engineers’ would tell the victim that their computer had serious problems and ask for remote access to the system. Next, they would uninstall the existing anti-virus solutions and make subtle changes to the operating system. After the victim noticed that their computer was running slower than usual, the ‘engineers’ charged them between £35 and £150 for a ‘fix’, consisting of a free Microsoft application.

The name of this particular software was not published, but we can assume it was Windows Defender, available as a free download on the Microsoft website.

The trading Standards Institute notes that many of the victims were elderly.

In court, Jamil claimed that the scam was the fault of the call centre staff, and his only mistake was he failed to adequately supervise them. However, Luton trading standards officers had earlier warned Jamil about the conduct of the company called Online PC Masters, which he operated in a similar fashion in 2010.

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