March 17, 2016Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California is issuing a warning about Avangatee. This is not to be confused with Avangate (notice the one “E” at the end), a BBB Accredited Business since 2010. Avangatee (see the two “E”s?) is a computer protection/tech support scam which has conned several people in many states out of thousands of dollars over the past few months.Consumers are alleging that they are being cold called by people claiming to be tech support for Avangatee. They state that their computer has been hacked and offer a maintenance plan to fix the problem, all in an effort to gain remote access to the consumer’s computer.In the last few months, BBB has received several complaints from consumers in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Idaho, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, New York, Illinois and Arizona. The consumers state they receive calls from someone at Avangatee telling them that they have a virus on their computer or they were hacked “by the Russians”. Avangatee representatives then go on to say that for a fee they can install software to solve the problem. One consumer paid over $4,000.Complainants are told to send a check to 699 Lewelling Blvd. Ste. 146 in San Leandro, which happens to be a UPS store. Avangatee’s California Corporation filing address is 30685 Haylake St in Hayward. According to a Google search, this address does not exist.Avangatee is a new name on an old foe, Prime Technologies, LLC. On March 16, 2016, BBB serving Upstate South Carolina issued a press release on Prime Technologies. In this release they state that they currently have 123 complaints against Prime Technologies, LLC with losses totaling $400,000.A whois.com search revealed that Avangatee.com is registered to Prime Technologies, LLC and someone named Linda Massey. According to Upstate South Carolina BBB's press release, Massey was arrested on January 12 and charged with mail fraud, racketeering and money laundering. If convicted, she faces a lengthy prison sentence and will be liable for victim’s losses amounting to over 5 million dollars. BBB urges consumers to steer clear of these websites and anyone representing themselves to be from these companies. In general, never give someone access to your computer to fix an issue if you did not initiate the contact.In BBB’s Top Ten Scams of 2015, the ‘Tech Support’ scam ranked fourth on the list with 608 scams reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker, a new interactive tool from BBB for reporting and monitoring scams. The tech support scam comes in two varieties; sometimes you’ll be cold called by a scammer telling you that your computer is infected and other times you will get a pop-up on your computer screen saying that your PC is infected and providing you with a number to call.BBB advises consumers to follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to access their computer:Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.If you need tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their website, software package or on your receipt.Never provide personal or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.Never give your password over the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, don’t panic. Instead:Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those passwords also.If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you did not make, and ask to reverse those too.