Police in the U.K. have arrested four people in connection with a fake tech support scam in which callers passed themselves off as representatives of Microsoft or other technology companies.

Two men and two women were arrested as part of the investigation by City of London Police and Microsoft into the scheme, which has been a highly lucrative and popular one for many years. Officials said the investigation has been going for more than two years and focused on calls that targeted victims in the U.K., which has been a major center of such scams.

“The arrests have come about as a result of work by the City of London Police and forensic and investigative services provided by Microsoft analysing tens of thousands of Action Fraud reports and working with other affected organisations, such as BT and TalkTalk, to attempt to trace the source of the problem,” the U.K.’s Action Fraud cybercrime unit said in a statement on the operation.

“These arrests are just the beginning of our work.”

“This analysis and enquiries undertaken by the City of London Police have shown that many of the calls originate in India and that the worldwide losses from victims are thought to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds.”

Fake tech support scams come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the common element is the pitch from the scammers to fix some imaginary problem with the victim’s computer. The callers often claim to work for Microsoft, or better yet, for Windows, and ask the victim to provide remote access so they can diagnose and fix the issue. The Action Fraud team said fake tech support scams cost British victims £20,698,859 in the last fiscal year.

“These arrests are just the beginning of our work, making the best use of specialist skills and expertise from Microsoft, local police forces and international partners to tackle a crime that often targets the most vulnerable in our society,” said Commander Dave Clark, City of London Police and National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime.

CC By-sa license image from Chris Isherwood

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