With well over 1 billion active users, impersonating Facebook has increasingly become big business for cybercriminals. That certainly proved to be the case last week, when authorities in New York opened an investigation into a tech support company, Pairsys, Inc., accused of impersonating Facebook and Microsoft to sell basic security software and services for exorbitant prices.
According to Business Insider, Facebook notified the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the operation, and the FTC in turn ordered the New York court to shut down the company. According to the FTC, Pairsys, Inc. called people and impersonated big tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft, and then talked customers into allowing them to access their computers remotely. Once on their computers, the company allegedly sold customers “bogus warranty programs and software that was freely available, usually at a cost of $149 to $249, though in some cases, the defendants charged as much as $600.” According to the FTC, the company made $2.5 million in 2012 alone.
The court has temporarily suspended the company’s operations, though if they’re found guilty, the FTC will likely push to have Pairsys, Inc. shut down forever.
It’s a good idea to regard any communication purporting to be from Facebook with some suspicion; the site rarely reaches out to users directly, and if they did, they would certainly not be in the business of peddling anti-virus software. A healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way toward protecting Facebook users from scams like this one.