Tech Support Firms To Pay $26M For Scare Tactic Scams

Two companies are charged with tricking people, especially older adults, into paying millions for tech repair services they had no evidence of needing.

A computer pop-up screen notification of a software update.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two tech support companies have agreed to pay $26 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they duped poeple, particularly older adults, into spending tens of millions of dollars for computer repair services under false pretense.

Cyprus-based Restoro Cyprus Limited and Reimage Cyprus Limited allegedly tricked people into signing up for the services after falsely claiming that the user's computers had viruses or other serious problems.

“These companies used scare tactics and lies about threats to consumers’ personal computers to bilk consumers, particularly older consumers, out of tens of millions of dollars,” Samuel Levine, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director, said in a statement. “We have taken decisive action to halt this scheme and return money to consumers.”

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If you believe you were affected by this particular scam, hold tight. The proposed order must be approved by a federal court before it becomes effective. The FTC said it intends to use the $26 million fine to help compensate those affected by the scheme.

Fake pop-up warnings

According to the FTC, the companies "lured or alarmed" consumers by using fake Microsoft Window pop-up warnings indicating that their computers or systems were infected with viruses and urging them to scan their computers to avoid damage. Following the scans, the companies urged people to buy their software, which ranged in price from $27 to $58, to "fix" the issue, the FTC said.

"Regardless of the actual health of the consumers’ computers, the companies’ scans typically identified purported serious issues that needed immediate attention," the agency said. 

After purchasing the software, people were then told to call a software activation number, in which sales agents urged people to buy more services for hundreds of dollars for the fix.

How to avoid getting scammed

 According to a recent FTC scams report, people lost more than $10 billion through scams in 2023, a 14% increase from the year prior. Another 2021 FTC report found that older adults are targeted, accounting for 40% of all fraud reports in 2020.

The FTC’s scams website provides guidance on how to avoid a scam. Scammers use tactics such as claiming that there is a problem when there isn’t one, and pressuring users to act swiftly to avoid further damage.

If you believe you were scammed, the FTC recommends following a cautious set of protocols and reporting those organizations through this platform.


Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a reporter covering finance, tech and science. She previously covered biotech and health at Crunchbase News and enterprise technology at Business Insider.