The US Federal Trade Commission has closed down a group of tech support scammers who are thought to have taken $120m from unsuspecting consumers.
The FTC said that it has succeeded in gaining a temporary shutdown of two businesses which had been in operation since at least 2012.
High pressure tactics were used to convince computer users that their machines were affected and needed immediate repair. The scam netted $120m, according to FTC statements.
"These operations prey on consumers' lack of technical knowledge with deceptive pitches and high-pressure tactics to sell useless software and services to the tune of millions of dollars," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
"There's no excuse for it, and we are pleased the court has taken steps to temporarily shut down these scams while our lawsuit proceeds."
The scammers used free software downloads as a lure, telling consumers that their computer needed extra attention which would require paid-for software.
The FTC said that the scammers operated under a range of company names, all of which gave an impression of legitimate security software provision.
Once lured into the trap, victims were asked to provide remote access to their machine.
Paul Ducklin, a security expert at Sophos, said that these are tried and tested techniques that have been shown to yield results.
"They are not legitimate IT support technicians, and they have no idea whether there is malware on your computer or not. The 'evidence' they come up with is harmless and could be found on an uninfected computer," he said.
"The $300 worth of fiddling around they do is simply $300 worth of fiddling around. "You could achieve the same technical outcome for yourself by doing nothing at all. Literally nothing."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago