Tech support fraud is still very much alive, says latest FBI report

Tech support fraud is still very much alive, says latest FBI report

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released its annual report. In 2021, IC3 continued to receive a record number of complaints from the American public: 847,376 reported complaints, which was a 7% increase from 2020, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. Among the complaints received, ransomware, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and the criminal use of cryptocurrency are among the top incidents reported.

The IC3 also received 23,903 complaints related to tech support fraud from victims in 70 countries. The losses amounted to more than $347 million, which represents a 137 percent increase in losses from 2020.

Tech support fraud

Tech support fraud is a type of scam that is often neglected in the press, but as a security software vendor we often get reminded that this branch of scamming is still active. The only surprise in the report is that it is still a sector that is showing a strong growth.

Tech support fraud is where a criminal poses as customer, security, or technical support in order to defraud unwitting individuals. Criminals involved in tech support fraud will claim to be support or service employees from trusted institutions like banks and software vendors. Often, they sell victims services they don’t need or at absurd prices, and many victims report being directed to make wire transfers to overseas accounts or purchase large amounts of prepaid cards.

Malwarebytes examples

We get a lot of questions and complaints about tech support scammers impersonating us or using our brand to defraud victims. We set up a dedicated page for tech support scamsyears ago. Sometimes the scam mails are easy to recognize, and the offers these scammers make are often heavily over-priced. In the example shown below, the scammer couldn’t decide whether to use MW Bytes or MA Bytes, but they added our logo at the bottom to make a good impression.

fake Malwarebytes email

This is an email template we see quite often. Although the phone number may be different at times.

different phone number

To help you avoid Malwarebytes impersonators, there are a few important red flags you can look out for:

  • Overpricing. You can find our actual pricing here: /pricing
  • Malwarebytes does not use a third party company for technical support on our products. Support is in-house at Malwarebytes.
  • Our employees have company email addresses, so we will not use gmail, comcast, or other third party email addresses in our customer facing communications.

Senders that claim to be responsible for Malwarebytes Tech Support which we see repeatedly are TechGeek, Geek Squad Team, Czone Solutions Inc, Tech philosopher, Web-Gear solutions, and Malwarebytes Support R Us. While some of these may be the names of actual legitimate companies, none of them have any business acting on Malwarebytes’ behalf.

How to avoid tech support scams

In general, keep an eye out for overpricing. And do your own research to check the company in question’s charges.

When in doubt, do not use links or phone numbers sent by email. Research a direct method of contacting the organization by yourself and use that line of contact to enquire whether they are the origin of the mail.

For matters regarding Malwarebytes, please reach out to our Support team.

Stay safe, everyone!


Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.