Call center operator says he was duped by scareware scammers

Last fall, as rogue antivirus products were seemingly popping up everywhere, I started looking into rumors that Innovative Marketing, the company that brought us a host of dubious products including WinFixer and Antivirus 2008, was back in business. I never really got that story, but I did get an e-mail from James Reno, the man who operated Innovative's Ohio call center. The FTC had already obtained a civil injunction against Reno & his company, and  I had sent him a note saying that I suspected there was more to the story than could be found in the court filings on the case. Following is the note Reno sent me back, telling his side of the story. I'm printing it in its entirety.

Reno was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on criminal fraud charges.

Date: 09/22/2009 07:33 AM

Subject: Re: story on bytehosing

Bob,

    Because of the way the press has covered the story in the past

"Guilty until proven innocent" im very leary of giving any comments - I

am not sure of your intentions with your article and i request simply

that you report honestly to the best of your ability - I give respect to

reporters who do. I would just like my side of the story to be shown for

what it is -- that I was a techy geek kid who really didnt understand

the operations of a global compan, was young, and got taken advantage of

to be displayed properly -- which is the true story.

I will say that:

(1) Your senses are correct that there is more to the story that what

the FTC claims and that some of the claims of the FTC are absolutely

false in regards to our position.

(2) That the FTC's actions ruined not just my business but several

businesses in close proximity to me that we provided fiber Internet and

VoIP services too...  How would you like it to be your company who's

service provide just drops your internet and telephone services at the

flip of a coin? It caused alot of harm to alot of people - obviously we

co-operated fully with them in their investigation they could have

simply supeana'd our records and i would have handed them to them.

(3) as of now, I have no respect for Innovative and their actions - and

absolutely no affiliation with them in any way shape or form.

I  do not want to make any comments on the "guiltiness (or not)" of

Innovative simply because nothing has been proven yet in a court of law

and there is an on-going criminal case in Chicago thats still pending to

which there is a possibility that I may be drug into (as a witness or

otherwise).

    ByteHosting was just a small company employing a few local people

here in Ohio that provided services to several companies - Innovative

being the largest of our customers and for obvious reasons a very

difficult one to deal with -- if we lost their contract then ultimately

a lot of people loose their job -- we ended up becoming "Dependant" upon

their income and I blame myself for this mistake. ByteHosting is shut

down and exists no more - the webserver is hosted a colocation company

temporarily (to whom you contacted).  I am now working at another

company obviously not affiliated with innovative and for purposes of

making sure their not drug into this mess I wont mention their name.

    I made some mistakes of course (we all are human and all make

errors) - that mistake was letting Innovative become such a large

customer that we became Dependant upon them - however they kept us in

the dark on ALOT of their operation and we did not deal with a

significant portion of what the FTC claims... Had i known to the extent

the FTC claims they definately would not been a customer and i would

have laid people off to terminate their contract.

I am obviously not hiding, running, or fleeing because i have nothing to

hide but I do not have hundred thousand dollar an hour attorneys like

these other guys and did not profit at all from this "scheme (as the ftc

calls it)" and do not want to give fuel to a fire that I can not battle

- as comments can be twisted around very easily... I'm very saddened by

the whole mess and wish to get it over with as quickly as possible so

that I can move on with my life.

Regards,

~James

P.S. The money to which I paid to the FTC was paid to us as a contract

termination by Innovative and was destined to our vendors for the fiber

contracts and telephone services that Innovative had us install into our

office to provide their services. We turned this money over to the FTC

because it was directly from Innovative however this left our vendors

unpaid which ultimitately ended up in the down-fall of ByteHosting and

what caused us to seize operations.  Had it not been for this we'd still

be in business (even after the legal mess)... but paying bills with no

money is difficult as you can immagion. ;)

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