McLean man offering fake computer tech support gets federal jail time

When a computer locks up and a pop-up notification on the screen says to seek assistance to remove malware, people might not feel they have an option other than to comply.

That is one of the scams Bruhaspaty Prasad, 33, of McLean, Virginia, pulled off while conspiring with several other people — primarily based in India at a tech support call center — according to court documents from the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Friday, Prasad learned he’s going to prison for three years for helping to steal $1.6 million from more than 1,300 mostly elderly victims, according to a news release from the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Various scams were in play from April 2016 through September 2021.

Prasad’s co-conspirators contacted the victims through unsolicited telephone calls and pop-up notifications. One of the schemes involved call center employees pretending to be associated with companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.

Victims were led to believe there were problems with their online accounts and that they needed to sign contracts for technical support.

Once victims agreed to pay, many became repeat victims — they were frequently contacted again to be charged additional fees for services that were never performed.

Three businesses Prasad opened in Virginia fraudulently offering technical support received money from the other schemes.

Amazon provided law enforcement with substantial assistance during the investigation.

On Monday, the retail giant told WTOP it looked into the scam and reported it to the Justice Department last year. Be wary when someone tells you it’s an urgent situation, it suggests, because it’s a tactic scammers frequently use.

Amazon also reminds customers it has free customer support for its products and services, and it has a page on its website with tips for determining whether an email, phone call etc. is fake.

“We have systems and teams in place to investigate and stop fraudulent activity and pursue justice on behalf of our affected customers,” an Amazon spokesperson told WTOP.

“We have zero tolerance for impersonation scams and will continue to investigate them to hold bad actors accountable. If customers receive communication that they think may not be from Amazon, we encourage them to report it to Amazon.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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