FTC Cracks Down on Support Scams
The Federal Trade Commission has recently stepped up its efforts to stop technical support scams that are defrauding consumers of millions through deceptive search engine ads, popups and phone calls.
FTC, Pennsylvania and Connecticut Sue Tech Support Scammers That Took More Than $17 Million From Consumers
Defendants Used Search Engine Results and Popups to Lure Consumers to Deceptive Scheme
A federal court has granted a request by the Federal Trade Commission to shut down a tech support scam that allegedly bilked consumers out of more than $17 million by pretending to represent Microsoft, Apple and other major tech companies.
“We’re pleased the court shut down these scammers, who defrauded consumers out of millions of dollars by preying on their lack of technical expertise,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Our goal is now to get money back for the victims in this case, and keep the defendants out of the scam tech support business.”
According to a complaint filed by the FTC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and State of Connecticut Office of Attorney General, 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.
Read full complaint as filed here: https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/151113click4supportcmpt.pdf