Tech Support Scam Must Halt Operations Following FTC Complaint

Tech Support Scam Must Halt Operations Following FTC Complaint
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November 13, 2015

A tech support scam has been temporarily shuttered following a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the attorneys general in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

A federal court granted the request shut down the operations that allegedly bilked consumers out of more than $17 million by pretending to represent Microsoft, Apple and other major tech companies.

According to a complaint the defendants in the case used internet advertisements and popups that appeared to be from well-known technology companies to lure consumers into calling them. When consumers called the defendants' phone numbers, they were further misled into thinking their computers were riddled with viruses, malware, or security breaches, and were given a high-pressure sales pitch for unnecessary tech support services.

As alleged in the complaint, consumers who responded to the phony ads were routed to a call center operated by the defendants, where telemarketers would frequently misrepresent that they were a Microsoft agent, Google support, or work with AT&T, among other affiliation claims. The telemarketers would then convince consumers to give them remote access to their computers, navigate to harmless portions of the computer, such as the Windows Event Viewer, and mislead consumers into thinking their computer was infected with viruses and malware.

At that point, defendants would pressure consumers to sign up for technical support plans and repair services often costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. In some cases, the alleged technical support consisted of deleting harmless files, but in other cases, defendants' technicians would make changes that could potentially harm the performance of the computer, according to the complaint.

Under the terms of the preliminary injunction order issued by the court, the defendants must stop their deceptive and unfair practices and are subject to an asset freeze while the case against them progresses.