On October 4, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri appointed Thompson Coburn partner Claire M. Schenk as Receiver over the following entities, which the Federal Trade Commission alleges have targeted consumers with fraudulent schemes related to computer “repairs” and antivirus software:
The Receiver will soon set up a website for interested parties. Consumers who believe they have been defrauded by any of these entities can access information on the case through the website. Those with immediate questions can contact GATSreceivership@thompsoncoburn.com.
According to the FTC, Global Access Technical Support (GATS) and various related entities used pop-up internet advertisements to trick consumers into contacting their India-based telemarketing operation. “The advertisements are designed to look like an alert generated from within the consumer’s operating system or from a recognized technology company like Microsoft or Apple, warning that serious performance or security issues have been detected with the consumer’s computer,” the FTC explained in a memo filed with the Eastern District of Missouri which was unsealed on Oct. 11.
According to the allegations, when consumers contacted the call center remote access was gained to their computers and claims were made that tests had detected the existence of viruses, malware, or other threats. Consumers were then persuaded to spend hundreds of dollars for dubious “repairs” and tech support contracts. The FTC claims the defendants’ conduct cost U.S. consumers more than $5 million since 2013.
As Receiver, Claire Schenk will marshal monies and assets into the Receivership estate; pursue claims; recover wrongfully diverted funds and liquidate assets through the use of all appropriate legal remedies. She will work towards the ultimate goal of a distribution of funds to defrauded consumers.
“I’m honored to serve as Receiver in another high-profile enforcement action in the Eastern District of Missouri,” Claire said. “Thompson Coburn’s sophisticated technological capabilities will be a great asset in organizing and analyzing data for the benefit of defrauded consumers.”
Over the course of her career, Claire has handled Receivership matters from several vantage points. During her 14 years with the U.S. Department of Justice, Claire served as Civil Chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In both positions, she litigated Receivership fraud matters. Claire has served as the Principal Agent handling the business and administrative aspects of Receivership proceedings, and as Receivership counsel. She also serves as the Receiver in the 2012 SEC case against Burton Douglas Morriss and the Acartha Group entities, where she is responsible for the four entities placed into Receivership — including another dozen entities managed by one of the Receivership entities.
The Receiver will be represented in the matter by Thompson Coburn litigator Stephen B. Higgins, a former U.S. Attorney who has more than 30 years of experience in complex commercial disputes and white collar crime cases.