Ascentive Sued For Tricking Consumers With Scareware


A Minnesota resident has sued owner Ascentive for false advertising for allegedly using pop-ups and other online ads to trick consumers into purchasing unneeded software. "In essence, Ascentive falsely identifies computer problems and characterizes them as 'severe' in an attempt to scare consumers into purchasing its software," Douglas Ledet alleges in a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

Ledet alleges that Philadelphia-based Ascentive offers free software that purports to diagnose computer problems, but secretly installs an application that sends pop-up ads warning users that they have spyware. Ascentive allegedly recommends in these ads that consumers should obtain its software for $29.95 to rid their computers of spyware and other problems.



What's more, he alleges, Ascentive doesn't sell the software, but licenses it annually and then renews people's subscriptions without adequate notice. "Upon information and belief, Ascentive continues to charge its customers' credit cards, even after Ascentive receives notice of cancellation," he alleges.

Ledet is seeking class-action status. He is represented by Edelson McGuire, which has represented consumers in other class-action cases against Web companies.

Ascentive did not respond to a request for comment.

The company recently agreed to pay $78,000 and also issue refunds to Washington state residents to settle an investigation into deceptive advertising practices by the Washington Attorney General.

Ascentive, which did not admit wrongdoing as part of that settlement, also agreed that it will not "deceptively" misrepresent to consumers that their computers are at risk of running slowly unless they purchase Ascentive's software.

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