Alleged tech support scammers settle FTC charges

The companies allegedly charged customers to fix nonexistant computer problems

Operators of two alleged tech support scams that charged consumers hundreds of dollars to supposedly fix their computers have settled charges from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Mikael Marczak, doing business as Virtual PC Solutions, and Sanjay Agarwalla were among the subjects of six complaints the FTC filed against alleged tech support scams last September.

Under settlements announced by the FTC Friday, the two are prohibited from marketing or selling any computer technical support service. Marczak and his company, Conquest Audit, also are prohibited from marketing or selling debt relief services, the FTC said in a press release. Neither of the men admitted wrongdoing under terms of the settlement.

The settlement with Agarwalla requires him to pay US$3,000, the amount of money he received in the alleged scam operation, the FTC said. The final order against Marczak and Conquest Audit includes a $984,721 judgment, the total amount of money lost by consumers in the scams, but the order is stayed due to their inability to pay, the agency said.

Marczak and Conquest Audit are required to surrender almost all of their existing assets.

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 FTC alleged that they were not affiliated with major computer security or manufacturing companies and they had not detected viruses, spyware or other security issues on the consumers' computers.

Marczak operation cold-called customers and asked for $79 to $429 to fix nonexistent problems with their computers, the FTC said in its complaint. Agarwalla's operation used online ads to find customers, and charged them $139 to $360 to fix nonexistent computer problems, the FTC alleged.

An email seeking comment sent to PCCare247, a company associated with Agarwalla, was not returned. A lawyer for Marczak did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the settlement.

As part of the FTC's investigation into Marczak, the agency found he was also telemarketing a debt relief program the agency alleged to violating telemarketing sales rules. Consumers affected by the alleged debt-relief scams will receive notification of the FTC order as well as information about how to settle credit card debts.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Sanjay AgarwallaU.S. Federal Trade CommissionregulationsecurityCivil lawsuitslegalDesktop securityConquest AuditgovernmentMikael MarczakVirtual PC Solutions

More about Federal Trade CommissionFTCIDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place