AG Bondi and FTC reach $27m settlement related to tech support scam
The settlement is with Vast Tech Support, its owner, founder, and chief operating officer Mark Donohue and OMG Tech Support.
In November 2014, Attorney General Bondi’s Office and the FTC filed a complaint against Vast Tech Support, Donohue, OMG Tech Help and the companies’ principals and related entities for deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services.
The Vast Tech Support and OMG Tech Support defendants agreed to a judgment of more than $27 million and to surrender all assets to the court-appointed receiver, who will liquidate the assets and wind down the companies. Donohue agreed to a suspended judgment of more than $9 million.
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. ■