Windows 7 and 8 users still have nearly 11 months to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, but those calling iYogi for tech support may find themselves swindled out of $80 for the software update.
That’s the allegation by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a suit filed this week against the New York company — alleging that iYogi violated Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act, and may have even broken the Computer Spyware Act, as well.
The alleged scam starts when a user searches for tech support online and comes across iYogi’s number, often in a targeted search ad. Representatives for the company will get customers to authorize use of a remote access program, which the rep will use to show the customer a file that is supposedly infected. However, the suit alleges that those files are often benign.
iYogi representatives will then convince customers to download the company’s diagnostic software to fully rid the device of problems, which many times isn’t necessary at all. These tech support plans cost up to $140 year, or $379 for five years. iYogi also pushes $80 antivirus software, even if the customer already owns an antivirus program.
But perhaps the most egregious scam alleged in the iYogi suit is getting people to pay $80 for the free Windows 10 upgrade, which the company claims will cost $199 if done independently.
“No one is suggesting that the entirety of their business consists of this,” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson at a press conference in Seattle, according to USA Today. However, the suit claims iYogi has “repeatedly engaged” in the alleged scam.
Washington state is seeking up to $2,000 for each violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act, and up to $100,000 per violation of the Computer Spyware Act. iYogi hasn’t yet responded to requests for comment on the suit.
However, Microsoft has a whole unit dedicated to figuring out who is behind some more robust scams. Back in 2013, GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano reported on a scam where mysterious companies would call “on behalf of Microsoft’s Certified Technician Team.” But those scammers would just try to install remote spying software or get users to pay for unneeded services.
In a press release from the attorney general’s office, Microsoft’s Brad Smith said that tech support scams have reached epidemic levels in recent years.”
“Over the past 18 months alone, Microsoft has received more than 180,000 customer calls regarding tech support fraud,” Smith said. “Today’s announcement is an important step toward addressing this issue, which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable segments of our society.”