back to article In America, tech support conmen get a mild slap. In Blighty, scammers get the book thrown at them

Two bogus technical support operations have been shut down over the past two days – but the punishment dished out highlights eyebrow-raising differences between the US and UK in how they deal with these scumbags. On Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with six people accused of running a technical …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Too mild in both cases

    The punishment in both cases is nowhere near serving as a deterrent for the next lot to try the scam.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      True, but long gone are the days when we could simply drag the bastards into the middle of town, strip them bare, & whip them. I think the third offense was generally a hangman's noose which pretty much put an end to your criminal ways.

      1. Oliver Mayes

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Stop

          RE: Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

          Well, if you hang the right person, that's true.

          But as the Christie case shows, hang the wrong person, and you increase crime, as the real offender is still free and the police aren't looking for them ... because they hanged them.

          I tend to find proponents of capital punishment rarely think things through.

          1. omnicent

            Re: RE: Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

            errr did you see the Troll icon?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: RE: Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

            @JimmyPage

            Fully agree. There's also the point that these days you'd very probably find at least one jury member dissenting on principle. Would it be acceptable to take someone's life on the basis of a majority verdict? If not what does it say about other offences where a majority verdict is accepted?

          3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: RE: Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

            Most criminals do not think there is a significant chance of being caught, so the severity of the punishment makes little difference to whether they will commit the crime or not. However, the severity of the punishment *does* affect the average severity of the crime. A shoplifter facing a small fine will probably submit to arrest. A shoplifter facing the gallows will do everything in his power to avoid capture, including murder - they have nothing whatsoever to lose.

            Plus the effect of society as a whole is that human life is in general devalued, and the entire society becomes more brutal. If hanging is an appropriate punishment for theft, then using a poker to sodomize a child trying to scrump apples is letting them off lightly.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: Hanging has a very low rate of reoffending.

            But as the Christie case shows, hang the wrong person, and you increase crime, as the real offender is still free and the police aren't looking for them ... because they hanged them.

            I always thought Agatha Christie died of natural causes?

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Too mild in both cases

          To use the old cowboy movie cliché: "Hangin' is too good for them.". So perhaps drawing and quartering with their skulls stuck on a post outside the courthouse?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        Brexit is coming

      3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "[..] the days when we could simply drag the bastards into the middle of town..."

        Ah, the good ol' days. When men were men, women were obedient and whoever hung from a branch was scum.

        How did it come to this ?

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        "I think the third offense was generally a hangman's noose"

        If you couldn't afford to pay a fine nobody was counting. From Wakefield Court Rolls, 1315:

        "John de Blakhoumore, taken at the suit of Roger Walgar of Almanbury, for breaking into his house at Almanbury, and stealing goods and chattels, value 10s., which goods were found in his possession and are brought into court, is asked what defence he can make for the said burglary and theft; he pleads not guilty. An inquisition...finds him guilty. He is ordered to be hanged. He has no goods."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      Just put them on a real tech support help desk for people with qualifications in things like html, you know the ones that always know better than you.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      So, actually, US case is 0 jail time and $150k fine, UK case is 0 jail time and 9-month curfew. Lacking any further details as to any fines in the UK case, and whether either guilty plea includes recovery of frudulently obtained assets, I would say that the US case was more lenient, not less.

      In both cases I would expect coplete recovery of fraudulently obtained assets, plus fines, plus a few months in the slammer. After all anyone for example hacking a bank system to earn a few millions would be sent to jail.

      1. joed Silver badge

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        I'd say that US case at least resulted in a fine (while the UK defendant will wear a bracelet and wear relaxed fit jeans to cover it for 9 months). BTW, looks like US court system will be sole beneficiary - if they set the fine right, the scammer may consider the price of conducting business. Win, win (but for scammed saps).

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        If the US scum had the wherewithal to fund a large number of LLCs, set up all the phone lines, etc, they should have hit them for a lot more than a hundred K in fines.

        Who am I kidding...the current US government thinks banks are over-regulated and thus, can't compete.

        I'm wondering how long it's going to take for the next 2008-type crash.

        1. streaky Silver badge

          Re: Too mild in both cases

          I'm wondering how long it's going to take for the next 2008-type crash.

          Not that long but the eurozone banks still haven't fixed the structural issues that caused 2008, US banks have. Next crash aint coming from the US.

      3. SysKoll
        FAIL

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        Darn right. The Ohio scammer got a slap on the wrist, and the UK scammer got a sternly wagged finger in his face. Oh the horror.

        I fail to see what allows Mr. Thomson to be so smug about the way the UK courts dealt with that scam. It is actually even less of a deterrent than what the moronic FTC milquetoasts did.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      There was a suggestion the last time I got a call in the office from one of these people that they should be forced to watch endless repeats of Loose Women*. This was deemed a cruel and unusual punishment and therefore shouldn't be used. We then came up with the idea that they should be made tech support teacher for an old peoples home for 6 months. This was reinforced by last Fridays On Call.

      *We'd just got a TV license in the office for the World Cup and had switched to ITV thinking the news was on at 1pm (like the BBC) which it wasn't.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Too mild in both cases

        "switched to ITV thinking the news was on at 1pm (like the BBC)"

        There's a pathetic excuse if ever I heard one.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      perhaps we need to add "special place in hell" and "one way ticket to hell" as potential punishments...

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Too mild in both cases

      "The punishment in both cases is nowhere near serving as a deterrent for the next lot to try the scam."

      True. It seems in the US, the scammers "go large" and then end up paying large chunks of their "profits" to the government while in the UK it's on a smaller scale and the fines are also on a small scale. In neither case do the scammed get any of the cash back.

  2. Alister Silver badge

    You seem to be suggesting that the British punishment - suspended jailtime - is the more severe punishment, but the American imposition of a stiff fine seems to me to be the one which will actually have an immediate effect on the scammers.

    1. Dog Eatdog

      $150,000 split between about a dozen people and companies doesn't sound like a big deal to me.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        I eagerly wait to see your check for $12000 to the Red Cross.

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Missing a few 0's

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          "

          I eagerly wait to see your check for $12000 to the Red Cross.

          "

          If that's what I need to do in order to scam £10 million, you can have it with pleasure.

      2. maffski

        '$150,000 split between about a dozen people and companies doesn't sound like a big deal to me.'

        Rather depends how much money they actually made with the scam doesn't it?

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Rather depends how much money they actually made with the scam doesn't it?

          If the $150K isn't significantly MORE (2-3x more) than they made with the scam, it's not much of a deterrent, is it?

          1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
            WTF?

            We're missing the point with the US fine. It's a kick-back and everyone of any importance (from a capitalist point of view) has made a profit! win!

            Paying a percentage of your profit to the government to avoid penalties such as jail etc. ; It's kinda like bribing a police officer.

      3. jmch Silver badge

        "$150,000 split between about a dozen people and companies doesn't sound like a big deal to me."

        True, but still more than zero, as in the UK case

    2. Steven Burn

      $150,000 on the millions they make, is insignificant. (aka the cost of doing business)

  3. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Look at the bright side, outside of the EU you can introduce the death sentence again to have better parity with the USA.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Downvoted

      because it's wrong (despite the Joke Alert) and it panders to the morons who confuse the ECHR with the EU (helped by the morons at the BBC who never correct them in "debates").

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Downvoted

        I guess that acronym is "European Court of Human Rights" ? If they are going to veto any death penalty suggested by anyone signed up to their rule book then dosent that mean that The US are Human Rights violators? (apart from they aint in Europe and arnt signed up) , but still , shouldnt we be looking at Americans as savages and imposing sanctions or whatever , just like some of the less reputable dominions of the middle east? or even the More Respectable ones , Like Saudi Arabia , who've been quietly disapearing people recently , fund terrorism , and have a horrific record on womens rights, In fact why are they the respectable ones ? ... oh yeah , they have lots of cash and like to buy aeroplanes. and not the nice type of aeroplanes that take you on holiday - the ones that rain down death from the skies ....

        </carriedaway>

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Downvoted

          You guessed wrong. It's the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty drafted by the Council of Europe and signed in 1950, large swathes of which were written by Brits. This pre-dates the Treaty of Rome (in 1957) and thus the EEC, later EU by several years. The other 'ECHR', teh court that arbitrates over the convention is usually abbreviated to ECtHR to distinguish it, and also is not an EU body.

          The signatories to the ECHR include all EU member states (it is a precondition to joining the EU), as well as several other countries, for example former Balkan states, Russia, Greenland, etc., but, as you correctly observe, not the US.

          The bit concerning the death penalty is Protocol 6:

          Wikipedia article

  4. balrog

    Its perfectly logical, run you scams in the US and live in the Uk where the health care is and the guns aren't. Have your extradition lawyer on speed dial

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      UK-US

      Problem is, if you are un the uk, they would get you on federal crimes.. this is why they only conducted crimes in their own state.. they might be criminals, but not stupid ones.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: "they would get you on federal crimes"

        Um, I don't think the FBI has jurisdiction on UK territory.

        Yet.

        1. BoldMan

          Re: "they would get you on federal crimes"

          Try telling the FBI that!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "they would get you on federal crimes"

          "Um, I don't think the FBI has jurisdiction on"

          That's why they have the CIA.

        3. Steven Burn

          Re: "they would get you on federal crimes"

          I'll take that bet!

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Pint

      the Uk where the health care is and the guns aren't.

      haha, nice one, i like that

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tagged curfew

    What does that achieve?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Tagged curfew

      A mild punishment that doesn't prevent him getting an honest job.

      In some cases it may have a rehabilitation benefit too because it reduces the probability of offenders associating with trouble makers or being in a position to commit opportunistic crime.

      In this case we don't know from the reporting if that's relevant, but it does look like just a cheap sentencing option.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Tagged curfew

        well it wont have any effect on wether they reoffend with the same crime , as that dosent involve going outside.

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Tagged curfew

        I seem to recall a piece in El Reg concerning the contracts around this system being upgraded.The bit about Crapita having the monitoring contract. Now, how effective is that?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the UK I would have thought the punishment a fine commensurate with any money they had obtained. Then community service - with a suspended sentence in case they shirked.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "In the UK I would have thought the punishment a fine commensurate with any money they had obtained. "

      They can still go after him under the Proceeds of Crime Act now he has been convicted.

  7. Colonel Mad

    Locking people up is expensive, so there is merit in both approaches, it is in cases like these where the "Proceeds of Crime Act" really needs to come into play.

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