'Tech Support' Was a Scam, Aimed Mostly at Seniors

'Tech Support' Was a Scam, Aimed Mostly at Seniors

Everyone has seen the pop-up and text ads promising free tech support, anti-virus and other services. If you dismissed them as scams, you were probably right. And now, one of the larger perpetrators of these come-ons has met his match.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today filed a proposed final judgement with a federal court that would put BrightSpeed Solutions and its founder, Kevin Howard, out of business for good.

The Chicago-based company was primarily a payment processor for companies that offered deals that sounded too good to be true, including unnecessary antivirus software and other ephemeral services, the CFPB alleged.

“BrightSpeed and Kevin Howard profited by helping bad actors scam older adults,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We must do more to ensure our nation’s payments systems are not used to defraud older adults.”

From 2016 to 2018, BrightSpeed and Howard processed remotely created check payments for more than 100 client companies totaling more than $70 million, the CFPB alleged. Many of the targeted consumers were older adults who paid as much as $2,000 for services that were readily available elsewhere for free.

If entered by the court, the order would require BrightSpeed and Howard to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 and permanently bar them from multiple consumer financial products and services industries.

BrightSpeed faces penalties

The proposed settlement, if entered by the court, would require BrightSpeed and Howard to:

  • Permanently get out of multiple consumer financial industries: Both BrightSpeed and Howard would be permanently barred from the payment processing, consumer lending, deposit-taking, and financial-advisory services. They would also be permanently barred from engaging in debt collection and telemarketing activities with respect to consumer financial products or services.
  • Pay a Civil Penalty: Howard would be required to pay a $500,000 civil money penalty to the CFPB, which would be deposited into the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.