Amazon files lawsuit over ‘widespread tech support fraud’ targeting Alexa users


A picture shows the Amazon logo at the entrance of the Amazon logistics centre in Amiens, northern France, on July 23, 2019. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP) (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

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Amazon is accusing two companies of “widespread tech support fraud” targeting users of its Alexa virtual assistant and smart speakers.

In a lawsuit filed last week in a US District Court in Seattle, Amazon alleges the two companies — Robojap Technologies in Washington state and Quatic Software Solutions in Punjab, India — and several of their purported employees scammed Amazon users by offering to help set up Alexa on their devices through “fraudulent websites and applications.”

The companies allegedly used “Amazon’s trademarks, as well as false and misleading statements about Amazon and [the companies’] services, to divert victims from Amazon’s genuine activation process and customer support,” the tech company said in the lawsuit.

“Amazon works hard to protect our customers, and the blatant misuse of our brand to deceive unsuspecting customers setting up their new device is appalling,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business.

Robojap did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday, and two websites purportedly belonging to Quatic appeared to be offline. The individual representatives of both companies named in the lawsuit could not immediately be reached for comment.

In its complaint, Amazon included a screenshot of one of Quatic’s websites that said it was “managed by US based Robojap technologies.” CNN Business could not independently verify the relationship between the two companies.

According to the Amazon complaint, when customers tried to use these websites or apps, they would be shown an animation mimicking the download process, ending with an error message that prompted them to call a phone number for assistance.

When they called, the lawsuit claims, Robojap and Quatic representatives would take remote control of the user’s computer and try to convince them that there were technical issues preventing the Alexa-enabled device from working.

“Those claims are also entirely false and fraudulent, and no such issues exist,” Amazon said in the complaint, adding that the companies would then “offer services to fix these phony issues, charging customers hundreds of dollars to take the simple steps actually required to activate an Alexa device that Amazon fully supports through its own customer care.”

Robojap’s website describes it as “the only company that [is] focused solely on 24/7 management and backend support of smart home devices.” It also features a disclaimer at the bottom that it “is not affiliated or authorized from any third party company (including but not limited to Amazon, Dell, HP, AOL, Microsoft, Apple, Norton or any other…company).”

“Any use of third party trademarks, brand names, logos, marks, product and service is only referential and we hereby disclaim any sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement by any such third party,” the disclaimer adds.

Amazon is seeking damages from the companies on several counts, including trademark infringement, false advertising and cybersquatting.

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