Tech support firms in Delray Beach reach $27 million settlement

The FTC and Florida Attorney General Announced a $27 million settlement with tech support firms.

The FTC and Florida Attorney General Announced a $27 million settlement with tech support firms.

Companies in Palm Beach County accused of scamming consumers into thinking their computers were infected have agreed to a judgment of more than $27 million and to surrender their assets, state and federal officials said Monday.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Vast Tech Support LLC, its owner, founder and chief operating officer Mark Donohue and OMG Tech Support LLC.

A court-appointed receiver will liquidate the assets and wind down the companies, officials said. An attempt to reach defendants for comment through an attorney was not immediately successful.

Regulators accused the company of tricking consumers that their computers were infected, in order to sell them products they did not need.

In 2014, The Palm Beach Post reported FTC investigators raided the offices of OMG Help and Vast Tech in Delray Beach after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order.

Here is what a Florida Attorney General’s Office statement said Monday:

Vast Tech Support advertised a registry software product, PC HealthBoost, claiming the product could dramatically increase computer speed and protect from errors, crashes and freezes. After consumers downloaded a free version of the software, a system scan allegedly misled consumers to believe that their computer had hundreds or thousands of errors in need of repair, regardless of whether the computer had any performance issues. Another defendant in this matter, Boost Software, urged consumers to pay $29.97 for the registered version of PC HealthBoost to fix the non-existent errors.

To activate software, consumers were instructed to call Vast Tech Support’s call center, operated by OMG Tech Help. According to complaints, during the call, telemarketers gained access to consumers’ computers and ran a scripted diagnostic process that falsely indicated that the computer had performance or security issues. The telemarketers then allegedly scared consumers into spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary computer repairs.

As part of the settlement, Vast Tech Support, Donohue and OMG Tech Support are permanently prohibited from:

  • Making a false or misleading statement to induce any person to pay for goods or services or to induce a charitable contribution in connection with the telemarketing of any product or service;
  • Performing any acts or practices that violate the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes or the Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C.F.R. Part 310; and
  • Misrepresenting any material fact in connection with the marketing, advertising, promotion, distribution, offering for sale or sale of any goods or services.

Additionally, Vast Tech Support and OMG Tech Support are permanently prohibited from:

  • Advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, selling, providing or assisting, or providing consulting services for others engaged in advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, selling or providing any tech support product or service; and

  • Owning or controlling any business entity advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, selling, providing, or assisting or providing consulting services for others engaged in advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, selling or providing any tech support product or service.

 

 

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