Tech Support Scammers Used Deceptive Pop-up Ads to Trick Consumers into Buying Unneeded Services
The defendants used pop-up ads Seemingly from legitimate technology companies that included dire warnings, falsely claiming that a consumer's computer was infected
Urgent computer repair needed? Not so much.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has obtained settlements with a group of defendants who used deceptive Internet pop-up ads to trick consumers into buying unnecessary technical support services.
In a complaint filed in October 2016, the FTC alleged that the defendants worked with affiliate marketers to place pop-up ads falsely claiming that a consumer's computer was infected and that the ads originated from legitimate technology companies like Apple or Microsoft. The ads included dire warnings and urged consumers to immediately call a toll-free number for help.
When consumers called the number, they were connected to telemarketers based in India who falsely claimed to be affiliated with Microsoft or Apple. The telemarketers claimed they needed remote access to consumers' computers in order to diagnose the problem. Once given access, the telemarketers showed consumers innocuous screens and directories on the computers, deceiving consumers into believing that these were evidence of problems that required immediate repair.
This settlement is part of the FTC's ongoing crackdown against tech support scams. Last month, the agency announced Operation Tech Trap, a major offensive against tech support operators who used many of the same tactics as the defendants in this case.
"When tech support scams pop up, the FTC will take action," said Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Today's settlements, along with the agency's recent Operation Tech Trap actions, underscore the FTC's commitment to protecting consumers from tech support scams."
The defendants in this case are Global Access Technical Support, LLC (also doing business as Global SConnect, Yubdata Tech and Technolive); Source Pundit LLC (also doing business as OneSource Tech Support); Helios Digital Media LLC; Rajiv Chhatwal; Rupinder Kaur; and Harinder Singh.
As part of the settlements, the defendants are banned from marketing or promoting any technical support products or services in the future and from misrepresenting any product or service.
The defendants have also agreed to turn over assets valued at more than $1 million to the FTC, which will be used to provide restitution to victims of the scam.