The scheme convinced consumers to purchase tech support services by saying their computers had malware, viruses or other types of security bugs.
The FTC will start to provide 57,960 refunds with an average of approximately $30 to each of the scam’s victims. Many of the recipients will receive refunds through PayPal.
The agency said “those who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check.” It also noted “the FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.”
The agency and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the State of Connecticut claim the scam’s perpetrators, which ran under Click4Support and other names, harnessed advertising on search engines, such as Google, and website popups. The popups and ads purported to be from major tech companies like Apple and Microsoft and cajoled consumers into making a call to the defendants and purchasing tech support that wasn’t necessary.
The FTC said that new interactive dashboards for refund data offer “a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds.” FTC actions led to over $232 million in refunds to consumers across the nation last year, according to the release.
In separate news, the FTC released a warning last year about potential “romance scams,” which cost victims a collective $143 million in 2018. At the time, the FTC said these particular types of scams cost people more than any other type of swindling, and they are forecasted to become more common.
Romance scams are made by those who meet victims through the web and charm them over a period of time, gaining the trust and admiration of the target. They then ask for money for something — maybe a ticket to come and visit in person or an emergency medical procedure.