Fourteen companies, accused of selling bogus anti-virus tools to consumers, have been ordered to pay $5.1 million in fines.
Earlier this month, a New York federal court issued default judgements against the defendants, as well as alleged operators of the scams, a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announcement said.
The businesses – operating as Pecon Software, PCCare247, Marczak, Laskshmi Infosoul Services, Zeal IT Solutions, and Finmaestros, among other names – were primarily based in India, and had previously been the focus of FTC crack down efforts on tech support scammers.
In 2012, the FTC announced that its investigations led it to file complaints against the aforementioned firms, whose schemes allegedly carried on for four years. That year, a federal judge in New York ruled that the assets of the defendants were to be temporarily frozen to halt further scams from occurring, but now the courts have levied a $5.1 million fine, in order to “permanently ban [them] from marketing any computer security-related technical support service,” a Thursday FTC release said.
Furthermore, the New York court banned the companies, and individuals, from continuing such “deceptive tactics and from disclosing, selling or failing to dispose of information they obtained from victims.”
According to the FTC, the telemarketers targeted English-speaking consumers in several countries, including the United States, and purported to be affiliated with well-known companies like Microsoft, Dell, McAfee and Norton. Fraudsters allegedly tricked consumers into buying anti-virus tools to rid their computer of malware, charging them anywhere from $49 to $450 for services.
After consumers were duped into paying, they were directed to install software that gave defendants remote access to their computers. From there, scammers installed free programs on users' systems that never detected or removed any malware, the FTC claimed.
The consumer watchdog estimated that tens of thousands of consumers paid for the spurious services, which were marketed to remove virus or spyware from computers.