For about 15 months, Seward and McCormick operated a tech support business called ABC Repair Tech, located in Costa Rica.
- A.M. Costa Rica wire service photo -

-  Published: Thursday, February 13, 2020

Two former owners of Costa Rican
company jailed in the U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire service

Two former owners of a fraudulent tech support business known as Client Care, is going to prison for a long time. On Tuesday, in federal district court in East St. Louis, Illinois, a U.S. Citizen surnamed Seward, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and a U.S. Citizen surnamed McCormick, 47, of Hollywood, Florida, were sentenced to prison terms of 113 months and 132 months respectively.

Both men previously pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

For about 15 months, Seward and McCormick operated a tech support business called ABC Repair Tech, located in Costa Rica.

Seward also was the founder and chief executive officer of Client Care company.

According to court documents, the defendants purchased pop-up advertisements that appeared suddenly on a person’s computer screen.

The pop-ups were made to look like system warnings and falsely informed the victims that serious problems, such as viruses or malware, had been detected on their computers.

Often, the pop-ups caused the person’s internet browser to freeze up and stop responding.

The pop-ups also typically warned the victims not to shut down their computers or else they would lose all their data.

Instead, the ads directed them to call a toll-free number, where they were connected to sales representatives who continued the fraud.

The sales representatives convinced the victims to grant them remote access to their computers, where normal computer functions and routine processes were highlighted as evidence of serious computer problems.

Victims were never told that the pop-ups that had hijacked their computers were just advertisements purchased by the tech support company, or that in most instances they could make the pop-ups go away simply by rebooting their computers.

Instead, they were sold remote “tune-ups” for $250 and anti-virus protection software for another $400.

If victims balked at the steep prices, the sales representatives would offer them discounts, such as senior citizen and veterans discounts.

From 2013 to 2016, the two companies, Client Care and ABC, combined to defraud more than 40,000 people.

Victims were located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, several U.S. territories, all 10 Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, and several other foreign countries.

At least 57 victims of the scams were residents of the Southern District of Illinois, representing 22 of the district’s 38 counties, including St. Clair and Madison.

All told, the two companies took in over $25 million.

As part of their sentence, the court ordered both Seward and McCormick to pay over $11.5 million in restitution to the victims of their fraud scheme.

“As the court observed, there is a growing gap between our ever-increasing reliance on technology and the average person’s understanding of how that technology works,” said U.S. Attorney Weinhoeft. “These men took advantage of that gap to line their own pockets. What’s even more disturbing is that many of the victims were senior citizens. Following Attorney General Barr’s Elder Justice Initiative, we want would-be scammers to know that if they reach out and defraud people in southern Illinois, we’re going to haul them into federal court in this district and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

Over the past three years, 17 other employees of Client Care and ABC have also pleaded guilty to federal fraud violations in the Southern District of Illinois,as follow:

A group of 15th men former employess surnames Aievoli, Bachman, Broad, Carr, Cortez, Davidson, Dougherty, Iannaccone, Lawing, Ludena, McCart, Miller, Richardson, Swinson, Wasik. Plus two women surnames Crowell, and Espenshade.

Some consumers who were victimized by ABC or Client Care have received additional fraudulent calls. These calls typically come from companies claiming either (a) that the technical support the victims purchased has been transferred to them and additional funds are now needed; or (b) that they can help the victims obtain a refund.

Victims should be advised that no companies have been authorized to provide them with any tech support services on behalf of ABC or CLIENT CARE / First Choice Tech Support, or to provide them with a refund for any previous purchases.

The Federal Trade Commission has been working for some time to shut down illegal tech support scams. For more information about the FTC’s “2019 Tech Support Take-down,” please visit Consumer FTC website.

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