EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The man behind a Boynton Beach, Florida business pleaded guilty to wire fraud in East St. Louis on Thursday.
Michael Seward was an owner of Client Care Experts.
The company was accused of purchasing pop ups that appeared on computers in all 50 states.
The pop ups were purchased by Seward’s company, warning users about a potentially serious problem with their computer. Computer owners were directed to call a phone number that led back to Seward’s Florida business.
According to federal authorities, the ads tricked consumers into thinking there was a problem with their computer when, in reality, there was no problem.
Customers paid upwards of $400 to fix the non-existent problem.
The St. Louis Postal Inspector raided the Florida facility in 2016.
The indictment against Seward alleges the scam targeted more than 40,000 people with losses topping $25 million. Seward’s attorney Michael Walsh believes the actual dollar loss to consumers is less.
On Thursday, Seward reached a plea agreement with federal authorities. Federal prosecutors are recommending at least 12 years in prison, but depending on the judge, Seward could receive 30 years behind bars.
Seward apologized to the victims after pleading guilty.
The scheme targeted victims in all 50 states, more than 50 of those victims live in the Southern District of Illinois.
Seward will be sentenced in East St. Louis in February.
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