Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on March 7 announced that he has sued the operators of a tech-support scam as part of a nationwide crackdown on those who try to trick consumers into buying costly support and repair services.
“They might as well be selling a magic potion with eye of newt to fix your computer,” Yost said in the news release. “It’s a rip-off and I’m not going to stand for it.”
Yost and the state of Ohio, in coordination with other attorneys general through the National Association of Attorneys General, joined the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other regulators in a nationwide sweep to combat tech-support scammers, the release said.
The scams all work in similar ways, the release said. Scammers use phone calls and online ads resembling security alerts from major technology companies to trick consumers into contacting the operators of these schemes and providing access to the consumers’ computers, the release said. The scammers say consumers’ computers are infected with viruses or experiencing other problems and then pressure consumers, especially the elderly, into buying unnecessary computer repair services, service plans, antivirus protection or software and other products and services, the release said.
Yost's lawsuit alleges that Aman Sachan of Westerville operated Support By Experts LLC and Real Tech Experts LLC, all of which were involved in tech-support scams throughout Ohio, the release said. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the defendants created pop-up advertisements, encouraging consumers to call them because the consumer’s computer was infected with a virus, the release said. When the consumer called, the defendants then sold consumers a worthless product for hundreds of dollars, the release said. The complaint alleges multiple violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, consumer restitution and civil penalties, the release said.
Dominic Binkley, a spokesman for Yost's office, said the suit was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. He said he couldn't comment on whether criminal charges might be filed.
As part of an education effort, Yost also has released a video encouraging Ohioans to be diligent in spotting and avoiding tech-support scams.
The National Association of Attorneys General, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission worked for more than a year on the initiative, with 16 other states and Washington, D.C., also participating, the release said.