AG Jepsen: Connecticut Joins FTC and Pennsylvania AG in
Enforcement Action against Alleged Tech Support Scam
Federal court granted order shutting down Click4Support, accused of
scamming consumers out of more than $17 million
A federal court has granted a request to shut down a tech support scam operating out of Essex, Conn., and two locations in Pennsylvania that allegedly scammed consumers out of more than $17 million by pretending to represent Microsoft, Apple and other major tech companies, Attorney General George Jepsen said today.
Connecticut has joined with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Pennsylvania's Attorney General in filing a joint complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleging that the defendants used Internet advertisements and popups that appeared to be from well-known technology companies to lure consumers into calling them. When consumers called the defendants' phone numbers, they were allegedly further misled into thinking that their computers were full of viruses, malware or other security breaches and were given a high-pressure sales pitch for unnecessary tech support services.
The complaint names Click4Support LLC and Innovazion Inc., which also did business as Click4Support and UBERTECHSUPPORT, both based in Essex; Pennsylvania-based iSourceUSA LLC, which also did business at Click4Support Tech Services; and Pennsylvania-based Spanning Source LLC, which also did business as Click4Support; Bruce Bartolotta of Deep River, Conn.; George Saab of Stow, Mass.; Chetan Bhikhubhai Patel of Newtown, Penn.; and Niraj Patel of New Hope, Penn., as defendants.
Under the terms of a preliminary injunction issued by the court, the defendants must stop engaging in any deceptive and unfair practices and are subject to an asset freeze while the case against them progresses.
"Our complaint alleges that the defendants in this case engaged in deliberate deception in their marketing and business practices, representing that they were affiliated with well-known companies when, in fact, they had no relationship at all," said Attorney General Jepsen. "The allegations of consumer fraud in this case are egregious, and I'm pleased that the court has issued an order effectively shutting this operation down while our lawsuit progresses."
The complaint alleges that when consumers who responded to the ads were routed to a call center, telemarketers would frequently misrepresent that they were "a Microsoft agent," "Google support" or that they "work for AT&T," among other affiliation claims. The telemarketers would then convince consumers to give them remote access to their computers, navigate to harmless portions of the computer and mislead consumers into thinking that their computer was infected with viruses or malware.
Then, the complaint alleges, the defendants would pressure consumers into signing up for tech support plans and repair services – often costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. In some cases, the alleged technical support involved deleting harmless files, but in other cases the defendants would allegedly make changes that could potentially harm the computer's performance.
The complaint alleges violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) as well as the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The lawsuit seeks permanent injunctions, consumer redress and forfeiture of ill-gotten gains.
Attorney General Jepsen thanked the FTC and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office for its partnership in this enforcement action. Additionally, the Attorney General thanked the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut, which provided information about 148 consumer complaints that it had received against Click4Support, for its assistance with the investigation into this case.
Assistant Attorneys General Sandra Arenas and Lorrie Adeyemi, head of the Consumer Protection Department, and Legal Investigator Christine Buck are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
Please click here to view the joint complaint and click here to view the temporary restraining order issued by the federal court.