This week, it was announced that the operators of two tech support scams had agreed to settle charges brought forth by the FTC that they scammed consumers into believing that their computers were infected with viruses and malware. Then, the defendants allegedly charged the consumers hundreds of dollars for unneeded repairs. The defendants will now be permanently banned from operating tech support businesses under the terms of the settlements.
According to the FTC’s complaints, the defendants contacted consumers using phone calls and display advertisements on their computers. The ads were designed to resemble pop-up security alerts from Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies. The ads attempted to convince consumers that their computers had been hacked or infected with viruses. Consumers were urged to call a toll-free number for immediate assistance.
After consumers called the number, they were connected to a call center. Telemarketers claiming to be affiliated with Microsoft or Apple convinced the consumers that they would need to provide remote access to their computer to fix the problem. After remote access had been gained, the schemers pretended to run a series of “diagnostic tests”, which claimed to show that the computers were suffering from major problems.
Eventually, the defendants persuaded the consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer repair services, plans and anti-virus protection software. In some cases, the defendants installed malware on the victims’ computers. The defendants, Madhu Sethi and Ila Sethi, and their business Troth Solutions have been permanently banned from advertising, marketing, promoting or selling any tech support product or service.
The settlement also imposes a $2 million judgment, but most has been suspended. The court also entered a judgment of $2,087,844.72 against six of seven named corporate defendants. This includes Trothsolutions Inc., Quickkonto LLC, Crazy Bee Man of Palm Beach Inc. and Airoways LLC. Additional details can be found here.