Published: July 10, 2016 WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBAY) – The federal government is cracking down on a tech support scheme that took victims for millions of dollars.
The Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida worked together to get the operation shut down and freeze assets. The FTC says the operation used “deceptive online ads and misleading, high-pressure sales tactics” to get people to spend hundreds on computer repairs and antivirus software. A complaint shows the numbers in the ads were traced to a call center in Boynton Beach, Florida.
The defendants in this case are charged with violations of the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Target 2 Consumer Alert has reported on these tech support schemes in the past. A pop-up ad will appear on your computer screen saying your machine is infected. It prompts the user to call a phone number to get protection from the virus. The alleged fraudsters will claim to be technicians with Microsoft or Apple, according to the FTC.
Victims would be asked to pay $200 to $300 to fix the problem, and then be asked to spend an additional $200 to $500 for new antivirus software.
“Scammers like these use incredibly deceptive tactics that make consumers think they are receiving warnings from legitimate technology companies,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are proud to work with the Florida Attorney General’s Office to put an end to these fraudulent practices.”
The FTC identified the defendants as:
BigDog Solutions LLC (doing business as Help Desk National and Help Desk Global)
PC Help Desk US LLC (doing business as Help Desk National and Help Desk Global)
Inbound Call Specialist LLC; BlackOpteck CE Inc.
9138242 Canada Corporation
Digital Growth Properties, LLC
Christopher J. Costanza (doing business as CJM Consulting, LLC)
Suzanne W. Harris