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Some tech support scam victims getting refunds

The FTC and state of Ohio are sending out average checks of $417

Photo (c) Juanmonino - Getty Images
Some victims of the tech support scam who live in Ohio are getting justice. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of Ohio are sending out $92,000 in refunds to consumers who were tricked.

We’ve reported on this scheme over the years. There are many variations of the tech support scam, but most go like this: an ad that looks like a security alert pops up on a consumer’s computer informing them they have a virus and provides a toll-free number to call to get it removed.

If the victim bites, he or she will be charged several hundred dollars for “lifetime support” and sold useless software they don’t need. It’s rare that victims ever get relief, but in this case the FTC and Ohio reached a settlement with operators who were doing business under a variety of names, including Repair All PC and WebTech World, among others.

Masquerading as Microsoft

As early as 2015, scammers were cold calling consumers and claiming to be employees of Microsoft, telling their intended victims that an analysis had indicated their PC was infected with malware that could be removed for a hefty fee. In one year, Microsoft said it received 175,000 complaints about that scheme.

The latest FTC complaint said people who called the toll-free number listed on the pop-up ads were urged to provide the telemarketers with remote access to their computers. The telemarketers then went through the motions of running diagnostic tests before delivering the bad news -- the victim’s computer was packed with viruses, had been hacked, or had other problems.

Checks are in the mail

The FTC said it is mailing checks, averaging $417 each, to 222 victims of the scam. Those receiving a check should deposit or cash it within 60 days, as indicated on the check.

The FTC also points out that it never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check, heading off yet another scam in which criminals promise to help victims receive their compensation in exchange for a fee.

Consumers who believe they are due a refund should watch their mail for a check. If they have questions, they can contact the FTC’s refund administrator -- Rust Consulting, Inc. -- at 1-877-773-8183.

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