Two operators of alleged tech support scams have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission complaints and give up their ill-gotten gains.
Mikael Marczak, doing business as Virtual PC Solutions, and Sanjay Agarwalla were among the subjects of a series of six complaints filed by the FTC last September as part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from online scams. According to the complaints, the defendants posed as major computer security and manufacturing companies to deceive consumers into believing that their computers were riddled with viruses, spyware and other malware.
The complaints alleged that the defendants were not actually affiliated with major computer security or manufacturing companies and they had not detected viruses, spyware or other security or performance issues on the consumers’ computers. The defendants charged consumers hundreds of dollars to remotely access and “fix” the consumers’ computers.
Additionally, as part of its investigation into one of the schemes operated by Marczak, FTC staff discovered he was also telemarketing a debt relief program that the FTC claimed violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule. These alleged violations were added, along with an additional defendant, Marczak’s corporation Conquest Audit, to the complaint against Marczak in April.
The stipulated final orders against Agarwalla and Marczak and Conquest Audit, prohibit Agarwalla and Marczak from advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale or selling any computer security or computer related technical support service and from assisting others in doing so. Marczak and Conquest Audit also are prohibited from marketing or selling debt relief services.
In addition, both stipulated final orders impose monetary judgments. The final order against Agarwalla requires him to pay $3,000 – the total amount of funds he received for his role in the alleged scam operation. The final order against Marczak and Conquest Audit includes a $984,721 judgment, which is the total amount of money lost by consumers in the scams. Although the judgment will be stayed due to their inability to pay the full amount, Marczak and Conquest Audit will surrender almost all of their existing assets. Consumers affected by the debt-relief scams will also receive notification of the order as well as information from the FTC about how to settle credit card debts.
While the stipulated final orders announced today resolve the FTC’s claims against Agarwalla, Marczak and Conquest Audit, litigation continues against the remaining defendants in each of these actions.
The Commission vote approving each of the stipulated final orders was 4-0. The judgments were entered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 24, 2013.
NOTE: Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed and approved by the District Court judge. (FTC File Nos. X130030, X120057; the staff contact for the Marczak/Conquest Audit matter is Kelly A. Horne, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3031; the staff contact for the Agarwalla matter is Christine M. Todaro, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3711.)
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.