The Federal Trade Commission takes action to halt scams in which telemarketers pose as tech support from major computer companies and tell consumers that they have detected malware on their computers, and then charge $49 to $450 to remotely access and remove the malware.
The scammers claimed to be with companies such as Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, and Norton, according to the FTC.
At the request of the FTC, a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered a halt to six alleged tech-support scams pending further hearings, and has frozen their assets. The FTC charged that the operations (mostly based in India) target English-speaking consumers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K. According to the FTC, one of the six outfits placed ads with Google that would pop up when consumers searched for their computer company's tech-support telephone number.
"This is an important move by the Federal Trade Commission that should save many consumers a lot of money," says Consumer Reports privacy expert Jeff Fox. "I'm particularly gratified to see these scammers busted because, just recently, I myself was called at home by a scammer pretending to be a representative from Microsoft, who informed me that my computer was infected and needed to be cleaned up. Of course, I hung up on him."
The FTC charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act, which bars unfair and deceptive commercial practices, as well as the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and with illegally calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. The case targets 14 corporate defendants and 17 individual defendants in six legal filings: Pecon Software Ltd., Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt. Ltd., and PCCare247, Inc., and individual defendants in each of the cases.
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FTC Halts Massive Tech Support Scams [FTC]