On August the 10th, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had obtained a default judgment and permanent injunction against a Florida man, who was peddling unnecessary tech support while pretending to be affiliated with the FTC.
The defendant, Daniel L. Croft, of Lake Worth, Florida has been operating a scheme utilizing several factitious businesses, including PC Guru Tech Support and Elite Tech Support. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendant has been engaged in deceptive marketing and advertising practices since at least July of 2016.
Croft is accused of offering technical support services, while falsely pretending to be affiliated with the FTC. When contacting potential clients, Croft claimed he was appointed by the FTC to get in touch with consumers. The defendant sent unsolicited emails to clients utilizing several email addresses including firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
To make the unsolicited emails appear more legitimate, the defendant sent emails using subject lines claiming that two purported technical support companies had put spyware on the user’s computer. The body of the emails suggested that Fast Fix 123 or One Bit IT had been fined by the FTC for putting a small program on the consumer’s computer.
The defendant claimed that he was given the responsibility of informing the consumer of the lawsuit and removing the program from the user’s computer. In an attempt to deceive the consumer, Daniel Croft simultaneously sent a “Federal Trade Commission Report” to the user. The report, which looked similar to a press release, contained the FTC’s seal, moto, and the names of two FTC attorneys. The press release claimed that Fast Fix 123 or One Bit IT had been scamming clients and that PC GURU was one of the 3 tech support companies selected to notify and remove the software from the victim’s computer.
The FTC’s complaint confirms that the press releases are completely bogus, as the agency has never filed a case nor settled any action against either company. The bogus press releases encouraged consumers to make contact with the defendant via a phone number. When doing so, the defendant would again falsely claim to represent the FTC. The defendant has not and has never been affiliated with the FTC.
The court’s final order was issued last month. It prohibits Daniel L. Croft from sending out commercial emails, unless they contain the sender’s physical address and are clearly identified as an advertisement. Croft is also prohibited from making misrepresentations about being affiliated with the FTC or another government agency. Finally, Croft has been order to pay more than $52,000.