Attorney General DeWine, FTC Take Action Against Alleged Computer Repair Scam
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Federal Trade Commission announced a joint lawsuit against the operators of an alleged computer repair scam. The action is part of a nationwide sweep against sham tech-support services.
According to the lawsuit, Repair All PC and several related companies and individuals tricked consumers into paying for unnecessary computer support services and security software. Nationwide, hundreds of consumers filed complaints about the scheme with the Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General’s Office, or other agencies. Victims often reported losing about $100 to $500 each, though some reported losing much more.
“We found that the operators of this scheme would scare people into thinking there was a problem with their computers and then pressure them into paying for services they didn’t need,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Our goal is to warn people about these tactics and to stop the bad practices.”
The investigation into Repair All PC found that the scheme generally began when consumers were browsing online and received a pop-up security warning on their computer. The warning indicated that the computer was infected with a virus (or was otherwise compromised) and instructed the consumers to call a toll-free number.
Once consumers called, they were connected to telemarketers who asked for remote access to their computers and who claimed to find errors, viruses, spyware, malware, or other problems. The operators also gave people the impression that they were affiliated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple. Eventually, the telemarketers asked for payment.
In some cases, if consumers refused to pay, the telemarketers allegedly used an application that would allow them to set a secret password and make the consumer’s computer unusable until the password was entered. The scheme’s operators also allegedly used a practice called “browser hijacking,” meaning consumers would be unable to close or navigate around the pop-up warnings that appeared on their computers.
The Attorney General’s and Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, accuses the following defendants of violating the FTC Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act: Repair All PC LLC; Pro PC Repair LLC; I Fix PC LLC; WebTech World LLC; Online Assist LLC; Datadeck LLC; I Fix PC (also doing business as Techers 247, I Fix PC, and I Fix PC 247); Jessica Marie Serrano; Dishant Khanna; Mohit Malik; Romil Bhatia; Lalit Chadha; and Roopkala Chadha.
In the lawsuit, the FTC and Attorney General seek relief for affected consumers and injunctive relief to prevent further violations.
Computer repair schemes are one of the scams addressed by the Ohio Attorney General’s “Ohio Protects” multi-media outreach campaign, which Attorney General DeWine announced in 2016. The campaign features a dedicated consumer-protection microsite and three 30-second videos that use humor to help convey messages about scams. Consumers can learn more or report suspected fraud at www.OhioProtects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.
DeWine Announces Settlement in Principle to Recover $446,800 for Ohio Medicaid Program
Ohio and several other states have reached an agreement in principle to join the federal government in a settlement with CareCore National LLC, a benefits management company, to resolve allegations that it improperly authorized medical procedures paid for with Medicare and Medicaid funds.
The settlement includes $446,878.80 in restitution and other recoveries for Ohio’s Medicaid program.
The agreement settles allegations that CareCore instituted a scheme to automatically approve hundreds of radiology service requests on a daily basis, deeming those diagnostic services as reasonable and medically necessary, even though there had been no evaluation of those cases by the appropriate medical personnel. CareCore allegedly auto-approved the requests in an effort to keep up with the volume of preauthorization requests for diagnostic radiology services and to avoid monetary penalties for untimely reviews.
Specifically, the agreement in principle resolves allegations that from Jan. 1, 2005, through June 13, 2013, CareCore developed and implemented a “Process as Directed” or “PAD” program through which CareCore improperly approved over 200,000 prior authorization requests that it initially determined could not be approved based on the information provided. The alleged conduct caused false or fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid programs, including to their contracted managed care organizations.
CareCore will pay the federal government $54 million, of which $18 million will go to the state Medicaid programs, to resolve allegations that CareCore caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs.
The settlement resolves allegations asserted in a whistleblower action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with CareCore on behalf of the states. The team included representatives of the Ohio Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Florida, Georgia, and New York Medicaid Fraud Control Units. The states coordinated their investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Bogus Checks Use Name of Auditor, Account of Sheriff
Forged Checks Purport to be from State Auditor’s Account
Columbus – Local authorities are investigating the cashing of three forged checks appearing to be from an account controlled by the Auditor of State’s office.
The three checks were cashed in the Dayton area, all drawn on an account owned by the Mahoning County Treasurer.
“For the record, the Auditor’s office has not had check-writing authority in 10 years,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “If anyone receives a check from our office, call law enforcement because it’s bogus.”
Yost noted the irony in someone cashing forged checks under the name of the State Auditor using the checking account number of a sheriff’s department.
“That takes guts, but not a lot of brains,” said Yost, a former county prosecutor.
The checks were in the amounts of $562.09, $542.93 and $548.26. The matter was brought to the attention of the Auditor’s office by the Mahoning County sheriff after the checks were cashed on their account. The checks were doctored to appear as if they came from the Auditor but used a check with the account number of the sheriff.
To report suspected fraud involving a government in Ohio, please contact the anti-fraud hotline at 1-866-Fraud-OH (1-866-372-8364) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Both the hotline and email are anonymous.
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