A federal judge has shut down New York-based Pairsys, Inc., a company that scammed computer users by tricking them into paying hundreds of dollars for technical support services or anti-virus software they did not need, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Pairsys cold-called consumers pretending to be representatives of Microsoft or Facebook. Pairsys allegedly also purchased deceptive ads online that convinced many consumers that they were calling the technical support line for these major companies, the FTC said.
“The defendants behind Pairsys targeted seniors and other vulnerable populations, preying on their lack of computer knowledge to sell ‘security’ software and programs that had no value at all,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are pleased that the court has shut down the company for now, and we look forward to getting consumers’ money back in their pockets.”
The FTC’s complaint says that the company used deceptive and high-pressure sales pitch conducted by operators in an overseas call center. The scammers convinced consumers to allow them to have remote control over their computer. Once they had access to a consumer’s computer, the FTC says the scammers would convince the consumer that the computer’s operating system carried signs of viruses and malware, claims that were not true.
“At that point, consumers were pressured into paying for bogus warranty programs and software that was freely available, usually at a cost of $149 to $249, though in some cases, the defendants charged as much as $600 for the supposed products,” the FTC states.
The FTC’s filings allege that the company made nearly $2.5 million since early 2012.
The defendants in the case, Pairsys, Inc., Uttam Saha and Tiya Bhattacharya, are accused by the FTC of violating both the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. In its complaint, the FTC asks the court to permanently shut down the company and require the defendants to return their ill-gotten gains.