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US authorities accuse 2 Indians of making money by fraud

New York: Two Indians and a technology firm they worked for have been accused by US authorities of making USD 2.5 million by fraudulently selling unrequired technical support services to computer users and selling software that was otherwise available for free.

The defendants in the case Pairsys and its officers Uttam Saha and Tiya Bhattacharya have been accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of violating telemarketing sales rule. A federal court has shut down the company after FTC asked to permanently close down the company and required Saha and Bhattacharya to return their ill-gotten gains.

"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," director of the FTC¿s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said. The defendants have agreed to the terms of a preliminary injunction issued by the court that prohibits them from making misrepresentations to consumers.

They are also banned from deceptive telemarketing practices, and may not sell or rent their customer lists to any third party. The injunction requires that their websites and telephone numbers must be shut down and disconnected, and their assets be frozen. According to the FTC¿s complaint, Pairsys called consumers pretending to be representatives of technology companies like Microsoft and Facebook and also purchased deceptive ads online that led consumers to believe they were calling the technical support line for legitimate companies.

The company then engaged in "deceptive and high-pressure sales pitch" conducted by scammers in an overseas call center.

The scammers would convince a consumer to allow them to have remote control over the individual¿s computer, in order to analyze the supposed issues.

The FTC said once Pairsys and its officers had access to a consumer's computer, they would lead the consumer to believe that benign portions of the computer's operating system were viruses and malware infecting the consumer¿s computer. In many cases, they implied that the computer was severely compromised and had to be "repaired" immediately.

Consumers were then pressured into paying for bogus warranty programs and software that was freely available, usually at a cost of USD 149 to USD 249. The FTC¿s filings in the case allege that the company made nearly USD 2.5 million since early 2012.

The FTC previously brought cases against a number of tech support scammers in 2012 and has received settlements and judgments totaling more than USD 5 million in those cases.

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