FTC Shuts Down Two Tech Support Schemes That Bilked $120M From Consumers

Sometimes when you can’t fix your computer yourself you turn to the experts. Unfortunately, some of those tech wizards are only out to help themselves. That appears to be the case for two Florida-based companies that allegedly conned tens of thousands of consumers – many of whom were senior citizens – out of $120 million by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support.

The Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida received two court orders to temporarily shut down and freeze the assets of two massive telemarketing operations this week.

According to the FTC complaints [PDF] [PDF], since at least 2012, both companies used software designed to trick consumers into thinking there was a problem with their computers. The companies then pressured consumers into purchasing tech support products and services to fix the non-existent issues.

Each company’s scam started with computer software that purports to enhance the security or performance of consumers’ computers.

Typically, consumers download a free trial version of the soft wear that runs a computer system scan. However, the defendant’s software allegedly identifies numerous errors on consumers’ computers, regardless of whether the computer has any performance problems.

The FTC alleges that the defendants pitching the software designed these deceptive scans to identify hundreds or even thousands of “errors” that have nothing to do with a computer’s performance or security.

Once the scan is complete, consumers were then notified that to fix the identified errors they would have to pay between $29 and $49 to purchase the paid version of the software.

After the purchase was complete, consumers were directed to call an activation number which connected them to a telemarketer that pitched additional services.

According to the FTC, these telemarketers told consumers that in order activate the software they would need remote access to their computer. The employees then found additional issues by showing consumers various screens on their computers, such as the Windows Event Viewer, and falsely claiming these screens show signed that the computer had significant damage.

The employee would then pitch security software and tech support that cost as much as $500.

The first suit involves the defendants selling software under the names: PC Cleaner Inc.; Netcom3 Global Inc.; Netcom3 Inc., also doing business as Netcom3 Software Inc.; and Cashier Myricks, Jr. The telemarketing defendants include Inbound Call Experts LLC; Advanced Tech Supportco. LLC; PC Vitalware LLC; Super PC Support LLC; Robert D. Deignan, Paul M. Herdsman, and Justin M. Wright.

In the second case, the defendants selling software included: Boost Software Inc. and Amit Mehta, and the telemarketing defendants include Vast Tech Support LLC, also doing business as OMG Tech Help, OMG Total Protection, OMG Back Up, downloadsoftware.com, and softwaresupport.com; OMG Tech Help LLC; Success Capital LLC; Jon Paul Holdings LLC; Elliot Loewenstern; Jon-Paul Vasta; and Mark Donahue.

FTC Obtains Court Orders Temporarily Shutting Down Massive Tech Support Scams [FTC]

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