(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A dozen Ohioans who fell victim to a widespread tech support scam will soon receive refunds totaling more than $5,000, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
The scam used fake pop-up warnings to trick people into believing their computers were infected with viruses and malware, and then charged them hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs.
“Most pop-ups are just annoying, but these aim to strike panic and fear so you’ll reach for your credit card without thinking,” Yost said. “Always be suspicious of warnings telling you to download software and never let a stranger access your device remotely.”
The refunds stem from a settlement the FTC reached with the operators of the scheme, which went by a variety of names including Repair All PC, Pro PC Repair, I Fix PC, WebTech World, Online Assist, Datadeck and Techers247. The FTC alleged that the defendants contacted consumers through advertisements designed to look like pop-up security alerts from well-known technology companies and included false warnings claiming their computers were compromised.
People who called the toll-free number listed on the ads were urged to provide telemarketers with remote access to their computers. After running sham diagnostic tests, the telemarketers told people their computers were infected with viruses, had been hacked, or had other problems and then urged them to buy tech repair services costing hundreds of dollars.
The FTC is mailing 222 checks nationwide averaging $417.
Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.