Watch what you download.
The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it shut down two massive computer software scams that cost customers $120 million since at least 2012.
“These operations prey on consumers’ lack of technical knowledge with deceptive pitches and high-pressure tactics to sell useless software and services to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Jessica Rich, FTC director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release.
The scam starts by getting the user to download software that’s supposed to protect, clean or optimize their computers. The software scans the computer and reports issues that may not exist.
The customer is then pressured through telemarketing to pay for expensive repair services, with fees as high as $500. In some cases, customers allowed the telemarketers to remotely control their computer.
At least a dozen companies were named in two cases before the U.S. District Court in Florida: PC Cleaner Inc. Netcom3 Global Inc., Netcom3 Inc., Call Experts LLC, Advanced Tech Support co. LLC, PC Vitalware LLC, Super PC Support LLC, Boost Software Inc., Vast Tech Support LLC (also known as OMG Tech Help, OMG Total Protection, OMG Back Up, downloadsoftware.com and softwaresupport.com), OMG Tech Help LLC, Success Capital LLC and Jon Paul Holdings LLC.
Victims of a scam can file a complaint with the FTC online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.