Office Depot Caught Scamming Customers with Unnecessary Malware Cleaning Charges
Ron Perillo / 2 years ago
Office supply retail chain Office Depot and sister store OfficeMax have been exposed as charging users unnecessary Malware clean-up fees after two separate US news investigative teams conducted tests that reveal the store has been lying. The scam was revealed when KIRO TV news based out of the Northwestern US took PCs to be checked out only to return with a recommendation of clean up after the stores test show “symptoms of malware”. Office Depot’s recommended fix costs $180. What the retail chain did not know however is that these were fresh out-of-the-box PCs and were even verified to be malware free by independent security firm IOActive. These PCs were in fact never even connected to the internet or any local network. A separate investigative team this time in the US East Coast revealed the same results when they conducted a test with OfficeMax in the Boston area. Two of the three PCs that WFXT in Boston took in were diagnosed as having malware.
A former Office Depot employee, Shane Barnett blew the whistle on the operation, stating that “The program itself is mandatory. It’s not an option to not run the program. You have to run it on every machine that comes in the building”. He further said that the company pushed the associates to meet sales goals for tech services and a running tally of the sales and quotas were kept in the break room.
The PC Health Check service is offered for free by the retail chain and is sold by Support.com, who in 2013 agreed to pay out $8.5 million USD in settlement alleging the same misrepresented results of malware scanning and charging unnecessary fees. Considering the number of PC users who are not as well-versed or literate when it comes to PC health maintenance, $8.5 million might not be enough to dissuade the scammers from stopping as evident in this new report. Office Depot has over 1,800 retail stores around the world and 1,100 of which are in North America.