CHICAGO – A federal judge issued a restraining order and a freeze of assets against a Boynton Beach, Florida, tech support group for allegedly tricking consumers into using its services.
Judge John Robert Blakey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois took the actions at the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State of Florida against Big Dog Solutions, a tech company based in Boynton Beach, which also conducts business as Help Desk National and Help Desk Global.
According to the plaintiffs, the defendants committed a breach of the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. In their request, they sought to put a halt to the allegedly illegal practices of the defendants. They also aim to collect refunds for individuals and businesses that they allege fell victim to the fraudulent scheme.
Apart from the Florida-based tech group, the case also named the following as defendants: PC Help Desk US LLC (doing business as Help Desk National and Help Desk Global); Inbound Call Specialist LLC; BlackOpteck CE Inc.; 9138242 Canada Corporation; Digital Growth Properties LLC; Christopher J. Costanza (doing business as CJM Consulting LLC); Suzanne W. Harris; Muzaffar Abbas; Gary Oberman; Donald Dolphin; and Justin Powers.
Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, expressed her gratitude to the other organizations and the courts for their assistance in stopping the allegedly illegal activities inflicting harm on consumers. She said the accused companies’ tactics of misrepresenting themselves as employees of widely respected brands had given them the legitimacy to lure consumers into their schemes. Rich noted that the cooperation among the agencies boosted their chances of putting an end to such practices.
“Scammers like these use incredibly deceptive tactics that make consumers think they are receiving warnings from legitimate technology companies,” Rich said, according to an FTC press release. She further said, “We are proud to work with the Florida Attorney General’s Office to put an end to these fraudulent practices.”
The alleged telemarketing scheme of the defendants aims to deceive consumers into buying computer security software or using technical support services from the accused companies, the plaintiffs claim. The products and services are offered to supposedly address the issues in their computers irrespective of the kind of problems or if an issue actually exists, the plaintiffs allege.
To carry out their plans, the defendants tell the consumers that their computers are infected, corrupted or hacked, the suit alleges. They used pop-up messages to alert the consumers of a “problem” in their computers, and using the same format, they instruct the consumers to quickly contact a toll-free number to avail themselves of technical support to resolve the issue, the suit claims.
The suit says the companies convince the clients of their authority and expertise by claiming that they work for big companies such as Microsoft and Apple. According to court documents, the majority of these victims are senior citizens, and dating back to January 2015, the defendants have managed to collect millions of dollars from consumers.