SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A Utah-based company and its owner were permanently banned by the Federal Trade Commission after it was discovered they had devised a scheme to trick customers into thinking their computers had a virus, then sold them costly repair services.
According to a press release issued by the Federal Trade Commission, Elite IT Partners, Inc., and its President and CEO, James Martinos, used internet ads targeting consumers looking for help to recover their email passwords then claimed to be associated with companies like Microsoft and Yahoo!
The telemarketers then ran bogus “diagnostic” tests and claimed consumers’ computers and personal information were in imminent danger and pitched costly and unnecessary repair services and antivirus software. according to the FTC.
“Companies selling tech support services shouldn’t misrepresent who they are and shouldn’t scare consumers into buying services by falsely stating that a consumer’s computer is infected with viruses,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When companies trick people into buying unnecessary tech support services, the FTC will take decisive action to stop them.”
The ban was part of a $13.5 million judgment against Martinos and Elite IT, which will be suspended upon payment of $173,500 and the turnover of other assets.
In addition, Martinos and Elite IT are permanently prohibited from offering or marketing tech support products or services to consumers and misrepresenting their cancellation or refund policies associated with a product they sell. The settlement also prohibits Martinos and his company from falsely claiming an affiliation with another company or that a consumer’s product is infected with a computer virus.
The Commission voted unanimously to approve the order which was then filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. The Court approved the final order on December 9, 2019.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).