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U.K.: Microsoft Support Scam Leader Gets Suspended Jail Sentence

     
5:16 pm on Apr 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you've ever had one of those calls, you know how devious it was.

A man who ran a "Microsoft support scam" which fooled people into paying for unneeded antivirus software that was free has been given a suspended jail sentence, and ordered to pay thousands of pounds in compensation and fines.

Mohammed Khalid Jamil, 34, from Luton, hired people in an Indian call centre who then phoned up people in the UK, pretended to be from Microsoft, and claimed that there was a problem with the victim's computer - which they would "confirm" by getting them to look at a perfectly harmless Windows program which records machine events.

The cold-callers would then sell the victims antivirus software that was available for free from Microsoft's website, and install it using remote access to the victim's computer. U.K.: Microsoft Support Scam Leader Gets Suspended Jail Sentence [theguardian.com]
9:03 pm on Apr 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Why a suspended sentence?
9:16 pm on Apr 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Why a suspended sentence?

It costs a lot of money to put people in prison.

Jamil was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and fined £5,000. He was also ordered to pay £5,665 in compensation to his victims, and £13,929 in prosecution costs.

Let's hope they can get £25,000 out of him instead.

...
8:14 am on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I would assume the fine was related to the size of the scam and the money the person has. It's a fair chunk of money in all, but, to me, it doesn't seem enough penance for all the misery they caused.

I agree, prison should be for different types of offences. I'm surprised there's not more emphasis on community sentences in this instance.
8:17 am on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but when you contrast it to sentences like this (from the comments on the article):

[telegraph.co.uk ]

it is not just.

Another interesting point is whether the callers know that it is a scam - they certainly must know sometimes, it looks like many do not.
4:32 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@graeme_p That was a ridiculous sentence, under the circumstances, etc.

As to the callers, I don't think any of those that are scammed know they are being fooled, and if they do, it's probably not until it's too late.

Of course, there are many people that are now well aware of these scams and would never be fooled.
5:31 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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a ridiculous sentence, under the circumstances

The circumstances were several days of rioting, arson, looting, violence and (in at least two cases) death.

Judges have always made an example of the few rioters who are caught, "pour encourager les autres".

I don't think any of those that are scammed know they are being fooled

I think Graeme's point was that some call centre workers may not have known they were involved in a scam.

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5:53 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The circumstances were several days of rioting, arson, looting, violence and (in at least two cases) death.


But that wasn't that guy. I'm not defending him, but a custodial sentence was way over the top for stealing some water. I would have rather seen a community sentence in that circumstance.

Point noted on the caller, rather than the recipient.
7:47 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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a custodial sentence was way over the top for stealing some water

Presented with such a headline analysis I would agree with you.

But from the judge's point of view, neither the value of the goods nor the poverty of the defendant's criminal ambition were really the point. Water or diamonds, the principle is the same.

He went looting during a major riot in which innocent people were injured and killed, and he got caught.

The custodial sentence was for taking part in the riot, not stealing the goods.

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7:31 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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He walked into a shop that was being looted, stole one bottle of water, and ran off. He was was not taking part in the riot in the sense of damaging property or injuring people or anything in the least violent.

The sentence was for stealing the bottle of water. He was never convicted (or, as far as I know) even charged with anything worse.

Returning to the topic: the scam was a deliberate fraud and compromised victims PCs. It is fraud AND hacking. Given the potential gains, the risk of a custodial sentence and large fine are not a deterrent nor match the crime.

I think something more in line with these would be appropriate:

[thenextweb.com ]

[bbc.com ]
9:24 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The Register version of the story makes him look a lot better, so may be the sentence was right:

[channelregister.co.uk ]
10:28 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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He walked into a shop that was being looted, stole one bottle of water, and ran off.

The link you provided does not say that at all.

The sentence was for stealing the bottle of water.

The link you provided gives the judge's reasoning:

“The burglary of commercial premises in circumstances such as this where substantial and wholesale public disorder has taken
place is in effect what is commonly called looting... The aggravating features are the background of serious public disorder and your part in that.”


The guy was clearly jailed for taking part in a riot, not stealing "one bottle of water".

As for the Microsoft scammer:

It is fraud AND hacking

The link you provided does not say that any computers were hacked.

It says that the victims were persuaded to provide remote access voluntarily.

Hope this helps.

...
11:02 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I used to get those calls quite often. Just to mess with them I'd order one Chicken Madras, one Chicken Tikka, 2 Keema Naans, and a couple of Poppadoms.

Never did get the food though.
11:44 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Samizdata, it does not say he way taking part in a riot. It says he did it "against a background" of rioting. Not the same thing at all. If he had taken part in the riot he would have faced more serious charges.

I am probably wrong about the hacking - I think I misread another article. It is still fraud though. See my other comment and the Register article.
12:12 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Samizdata, it does not say he way taking part in a riot. It says he did it "against a background" of rioting. Not the same thing at all.

I quoted the judge's words above:

"The aggravating features are the background of serious public disorder and your part in that.”

If he had taken part in the riot he would have faced more serious charges.

Looting during a riot is considered taking part, hence the harsh sentence.

If you want to be pedantic, he didn't actually steal the water - it never left the premises.

Note also that "a case of water" (per your linked report) is not "one bottle of water" (your claim).

The value is still negligible, but that was never the issue in this case.

Looting during a riot is not treated the same as shoplifting during opening hours.

Conflating the two would be a mistake.

...
3:26 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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your part in that.


Which was what, apart from stealing the water?

If you want to be pedantic, he didn't actually steal the water - it never left the premises.


Still theft - he was convicted for it.

Looting during a riot is not treated the same as shoplifting during opening hours.


It was still an opportunistic non-dwelling burglary by a young man with no previous convictions. He seems to be unlikely to be a repeat offender.
4:29 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Which was what, apart from stealing the water?

You might want to acquaint yourself with the doctrine of "common purpose".

It was still an opportunistic non-dwelling burglary by a young man with no previous convictions.

The judge saw it as an act of looting during a major riot.

Feel free to tell him where he was wrong.

...
4:53 pm on Apr 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I used to get those calls quite often. Just to mess with them I'd order one Chicken Madras, one Chicken Tikka, 2 Keema Naans, and a couple of Poppadoms.

I managed to keep one talking for about 20 minutes yesterday by pretending to be a gullible old lady. Or at least it felt like 20 minutes. I probably could have gone on for longer if I hadn't got bored, but at least my acting is improving. In the end I let my son tell the guy he'd won a million pounds.
 

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