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FTC says two bogus tech support operations scammed $120 million from customers

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John Taylor / Flickr

The Federal Trade Commission has temporarily closed two operations alleged to have tricked customers out of $120 million by providing bogus technical support. The commission has brought two cases against the groups, both of whom reportedly offered specious advice and fake security software to computer users, before charging money to "activate" the useless programs.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said that both operations "prey on consumers' lack of technical knowledge with deceptive pitches and high-pressure tactics to sell useless software and services to the tune of millions of dollars." One of the FTC's cases named a group that offered a piece of software known as "PC Cleaner" to consumers, a pointless piece of software designed to capitalize on computer users' fears that their machines have become infected.

The companies "prey on consumers' lack of technical knowledge"

The FTC's second case alleges that Boost Software Inc. sold fake software, while a series of companies, including OMG Tech Help, conducted deceptive telemarketing operations. OMG Tech Help had its offices raided earlier this week and its website shuttered with a message from the FTC. The Palm Beach Post reports that one of the defendants involved in OMG Tech Help, Elliot Loewenstern, previously pled guilty to federal charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2004.

Boost Software Inc.'s, website is still in operation, and its product page still offers a range of software that purports to keep your computer safe — including PC Healthboost, which says it can speed up your machine by "216 percent." The company says that it has been recognized as "the 646th fastest growing company in the US," with 2013 revenues of $11.5 million. The same site also clearly shows Amit Mehta as CEO and founder, named specifically in the FTC's case for allegedly masterminding the scam.