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Office Depot, Settle Computer Support Fraud Charges

Office Depot Inc. and will pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a combined $35 million to settle remote computer support fraud allegations, the government organization said today.

According to an FTC statement:

"the companies tricked customers into buying millions of dollars’ worth of computer repair and technical services by deceptively claiming their software had found malware symptoms on the customers’ computers."

The alleged Office Depot fraud and alleged fraud involved PC Health Check -- a check-box system (shown below) that recommended malware removal services regardless of whether customer PCs were actually infected, the FTC asserts.


The FTC alleges:

"...while Office Depot claimed the program detected malware symptoms on consumers’ computers, the actual results presented to consumers were based entirely on whether consumers answered “yes” to four questions they were asked at the beginning of the PC Health Check program."

Despite various internal warnings, Office Depot continued until late 2016 to advertise and use the PC Health Check program and pushed its store managers and employees to generate sales from the program, the FTC alleges.

Office Depot, meanwhile, has been shifting toward more sophisticated IT services -- led by the CompuCom acquisition of 2017.

Alleged PC Support Fraud: Global Problem

The U.S. government and states attorneys general have been cracking down on alleged PC support fraud.

Among those that came under fire: iYogi, an India-based remote support specialist that faced multiple lawsuits before the business apparently closed down.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.