Operators of a Florida-based tech support scheme that the Federal Trade Commission and Florida Attorney General’s Office charged with deceiving thousands of consumers, will pay $10 million to compensate consumers and settle the action, the agencies said Thursday.
Boca Raton-based Inbound Call Experts, LLC doing business as Advanced Tech Support; Advanced Tech Support Co, LLC; PC Vitalware, LLC; Super PC Support, LLC and the owners of Inbound Call Experts, Robert D. Deignan, Paul M. Herdsman and Justin M. Wright have agreed to the settlement which prohibits them from deceptive practices. They have agreed to be monitored for two years, at their expense.
“Technology repair scams are designed to scare consumers into purchasing services they do not need, and this settlement agreement makes clear we will not allow technology repair scammers to get away with preying on Floridians,” Bondi said.
This settlement is the eighth one obtained by the Attorney General’s Office in partnership with the FTC involving tech support scams since February of this year.
Defendant Inbound Call Experts, doing business as Advanced Tech Support along with other defendants, used high-pressure sales pitches to telemarket tech support products and services falsely claiming to find viruses and malware on consumers’ computers, the complaint states.
The stipulated final court order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting that they have identified performance or security issues on consumers’ computers and from making any other misrepresentations while selling a product or service. In addition, the order requires the defendants to review the business practices of any third-party lead generators from whom they get leads.
The sales agents allegedly scared consumers into spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary computer repairs, including $150-$300 for technical support services, ongoing technical support for up to $19.99 a month and software security programs at an inflated price, Bondi’s office said.
The order requires the defendants to transfer $5.75 million of their assets held in escrow by their attorneys to the FTC within 7 days after the order is signed by the judge, and to transfer an additional $2.25 million within 30 days. In addition, the court-appointed receiver will promptly transfer another $2 million of defendants’ assets to the FTC.
A negotiated settlement with the lead generator defendants in this action was announced in July 2016. The stipulated order announced Thursday against the telemarketing defendants resolves the case. A federal judge in the Southern District of Florida entered the order Monday.
Anyone who suspects unfair or deceptive business practices can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at MyFloridaLegal.com or call 1(866) 9-NO-SCAM.