Federal Court Orders Tech Support Scammers to Pay More Than $5.1 Million
A U.S. District Court has ordered the operators of several international tech support scams to pay more than $5.1 million, acting on Federal Trade Commission charges that they masqueraded as major computer companies, tricked consumers into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then charged consumers to “fix” them.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued default judgments against fourteen corporate defendants and fourteen individual defendants that allegedly operated the tech support scams. The operations were mostly based in India and targeted English-speaking consumers in the United States and several other countries.
The default judgments permanently ban the defendants from marketing any computer security-related technical support service. The judgments also ban them from continuing their deceptive tactics and from disclosing, selling or failing to dispose of information they obtained from victims. The judgments in each case are:
- FTC v. Pecon Software Ltd. et al;
- FTC v. Marczak et al.;
- FTC v. PCCare247 Inc. et al.;
- FTC v. Finmaestros, LLC et al.;
- FTC v. Lakshmi Infosoul Serivces Pvt. Ltd. et al.; and
- FTC v. Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. et al.
The FTC filed the complaints in September 2012 as part of an FTC crackdown on tech support scammers. According to the complaints filed by the agency, the defendants claimed they were affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, and Norton, and told consumers they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat to their computers. The defendants then charged these consumers hundreds of dollars to remotely access and “fix” the computers.
The FTC charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act, which bars unfair and deceptive commercial practices. In five of the cases, the FTC also charged the defendants with violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and with illegally calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
On April 24, 2013 and November 12, 2013, two of the individuals in the PCCare247 case agreed to settle FTC charges and give up ill-gotten gains. On April 25, 2013, two of the defendants in the Marczak case agreed to settle FTC charges and give up ill-gotten gains. The default judgments entered by the U.S. District Court apply to the remaining defendants in the tech support cases.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.