The Scam of A-Tech Network

Stuart Ashenbrenner

Apple Security Researcher

April 12, 2017

There are so many different scams out there today. We hear about it every day. It’s been spoken about in lengths on CNN, NBC, FOX, radio, magazines, blogs, and the list goes on and on. Being in the tech community, I’ve gotten to see a very interesting side to the world of scam artists, in an over-the-web forum. There is one in particular that has been wreaking havoc for computer users, but let’s face it, if you aren’t using a computer yet, then you won’t be reading this. No harm, no foul.

The scam I have seen in the largest volume in recent years, hands down, has to be

A-Tech Network Solutions

,

or as their company is named,

A-Tech Network LLC.

They claim to sell you anti-virus protection, and they “want to keep you from getting any other viruses.”

This issue was first brought to me when I was still working as a computer technician. The customer provided a trove of information. When I receive information, especially if it includes a company name and phone number, I think it is my responsibility to give them a call, let them remotely access my computer (like they do with all customers), and let them see “how many viruses I have on my computer.”

One thing I have to mention, when I called this company, I had just completely erased my computer’s hard drive and installed a completely new operating system. I didn’t download one, single program or even opened up the internet browser (Safari).

   Let’s begin with the information the customer provided me:

Company Name

: A-Tech Network LLC

Toll Free Number

: 1-800-565-2495

Email

: billing@atechnetwork.com

Address

: 182-08 91st. Ave, 2nd Floor

Hollis, NY 11423

Name Given

: David Hudson

Virus Protection Plans

: 1 year Warranty (Security + Network Security + Technical Assistance (Toll Free) + Antivirus)

Cost

: $999.99

With this information, I was able to easily contact this company, and with the slew of information provided, I had no doubts that they were going to try to sell me some type of virus protection.

I contacted the company with the number provided above and blocked my number in the process. Immediately after the person on the other end answered, in a heavy Indian accent, they told me that I needed to call back in ten minutes and to NOT turn off my machine because “the virus can spread without (your) permission.” For starters, stellar customer service, liars.

I waited six minutes and called back - now they could help me. REMEMBER, I have no information on my computer whatsoever.

The person on the other end of the line had my open my web browser (I chose Safari) and had me navigate to a website: FastSupport.com. It sounds legitimate to the layman, which is why this is so popular, but immediately I knew this was a trap. Once at that site, I was asked over the phone to download the program on said site, which was a Citrix Online Launcher (this initiates screen sharing…uh oh). They had my use “Remote Code: 494-594-332,” which opened a program called GoToAssistCustomer (a known bad program).

Once screen sharing, the gentlemen with the heavy accent introduced himself as Steve Jones, and that he and his coworker Paul would be assisting me. He opened the program TextEdit, which is the most basic word processing program on a Mac. He was a horrific typer. He asked if I had a “desk” or a “lap” machine - not desktop or laptop. Made me chuckle.

The first thing that they told me was wrong with my computer was that I didn’t have a firewall (I did, and I had it enabled). They wanted to help me “build my firewall.” A firewall is basically a built in network monitor that blocks incoming connections. Mr. Steve Jones made it sound like he was going to come to my house with some bricks to help me build this firewall.

The program or file he searched for on my machine was MacKeeper. He said “it is known to have a bug and (he) wanted to fix it.”  I told him I didn't have it, to which he seemed quite surprised, and told me I must have clicked on something wrong. My guess? Because of the atrocity that is MacKeeper, I think that MacKeeper sends you a pop up to call this company, because MacKeeper is a meaningless scam of a company. If you need more information on MacKeeper, feel free to read my last post,

MacKeeper and the King of Thieves.

This imposter on the phone popped open the Terminal program (see left) to see where the “attack” was coming from. He typed in the word “netstat,” hit enter, then typed the same word again, hit enter, and did this two more times. He was basically just trying to make it seem like he was doing a lot of work. 

    Finally, he found a virus on my machine called, Zeus. He even searched it on Wikipedia for me. This virus is ancient, and it hasn’t ben relevant in years. Again, all lies.

Now that he found the virus, it was time to make me pay. He told me that this would cost me $999. I asked it he had a website with pricing options. He had me go to sslshopper.com, whatever that is. Turns out, it was $999 in Australian dollars, which is only about $750 American dollars. I told him I was all-in!

I also asked if they provide in-home assistance. He said “yes” to my surprise. I then followed that up with asking if they were a local company. He said they were in New York, but they “outsource house visits.”

He asked if I could transfer them the money directly from my bank account. They didn't want to use credit or debit cards because “they’re anti-hackers and they don't want to see my information.” Funny how they wanted to remote into my computer and potentially see all of my personal information though. He told me that he would quit the screen sharing while I logged into my bank account. Instead of believing him, I just completely quit out of GoToAssistCustomer. I heard him stutter the SECOND I quit it, but he didn’t mention a word about it.

I told him I had logged in (I hadn’t), and he then asked to re-share the screen. I told him I didn't want him seeing my bank information, besides, didn't he say they didn't want to see any personal information?

He told me I needed to write an online check to him. I told him I didn’t see that option anywhere, but I did see a

Wire Transfer

tab. He thought about it, then he agreed. I told him what information I needed, and he gave it all to me.

Company: A-Tech Network LLC

Routing Number: 021000089

Account Number: 4998109779

After some quick research, I found the routing number above belongs to

Citibank

, whose address is:

Citibank

1 Penns Way

New Castle, DE 19720

I told him I transferred it, and that I would send him a screenshot of the payment screen. I then found a way to get off of the phone. I had all of the information I really wanted.

    In the end, after evaluating the customers machine, the number the customer called was found while the customer was searching for a Google Support number on a basic web search. I believe the number was 1-855-888-0376

If ever you feel like you are getting scammed, please email the

CVO Macologists

immediately, and we can come and check out your machine. Also, please always file a complaint to the

Federal Trade Commission

.

Questions or comments:

Email:

cvomacologists@gmail.com

Twitter: @cvomacologists