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FTC stops tech support scammers

Computer HandsIf you’re like me, you get dozens of calls from people saying your computer is infected and they’ll fix it right away for you. There's good news. The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against two tech support scams.

The defendants contacted consumers through phone calls or displayed advertisements on their computers designed to resemble pop-up security alerts from Microsoft, Apple, or other technology companies, according to lawsuits filed by the FTC. These ads warned consumers that their computers were infected with viruses, had been hacked, or otherwise compromised, and urged them to immediately call a toll-free number for assistance.

When consumers called, they were connected to a call center and pitched by telemarketers who claimed to be affiliated with well-known technology companies. Consumers were told that in order to diagnose the problem, they had to provide the telemarketers with remote access to their computer.

After gaining access, the telemarketers ran a series of “diagnostic tests” that claimed to show that their computers had major problems requiring immediate repair by one of their “certified technicians.” Through these high-pressure tactics, the defendants would persuade consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer repair services, service plans, anti-virus protection or software, and other products and services. In some cases, the defendants installed malware on consumers’ computers.

settlement with Madhu Sethi and Ila Sethi, who did business as Troth Solutions and used telephone calls and online ads to contact consumers, bans them from advertising, marketing, promoting, or selling any tech support product or service. They’re also prohibited from misrepresenting their affiliation with another company.

The settlement also imposes a $2 million judgment, most of which is suspended. The FTC filed this lawsuit with the state of Alabama. 

In the same settlement, the court entered a default judgment of $2.1 million against six corporate defendants, including Trothsolutions Inc., Trothsolutions LLC, Quickkonto LLC, Crazy Bee Man of Palm Beach Inc., eDoorways International Corp., and Airoways LLC. 

At the FTC and Alabama’s request, the court dismissed a seventh corporate defendant, Escue Energy Inc. 

As part of the FTC’s settlement with Universal Network Solutions LLC and Rajinder Singh, who only used online ads, the defendants agreed to similar prohibitions against offering tech support products or services and misrepresenting their affiliation with another company. The settlement also imposes a $547,087 judgment, which will be suspended when $61,360 is paid.

Copyright 2017, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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