Bogus Security Software Peddlers Fined $8.2 Million
Two men accused of scamming PC users into buying bogus security software have agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) an estimated $8.2 million. The money will go towards refunding the victims.
Fake security software and similar scams of this nature are known as "scareware" -- software which is purposely designed to scare users into making a purchase.
The scareware duo were made up of a father and son team. Maurice and Marc D'Souza are reported to have been involved in a massive scam that involved selling more than 1 million copies of fake security software to Windows users online. The FTC claims that Marc operated the scam, while Maurice profited from it. (Source: ftc.gov)
The $8.2 million payment is actually a settlement, which means that the pair have not formally admitted any wrongdoing. If either civil claims or criminal charges were to be brought against them, the case would have to be proven from scratch.
Fake Antivirus Campaign Began With Online Ads
The FTC complaint says the pair posted online advertisements for a fake security program that purported to scan a user's computer for viruses and other malicious software. The security software was rigged and when the scan finished, it reported to have found infected files. In some cases, the fake scan purported to have found highly illegal and distasteful pictures of youngsters on user PCs.
The user was then prompted to purchase the security software to "rid" the problems that never existed in the first place. The D'Souza's programs came under a variety of names, including Antivirus XP, Drive Cleaner and Winfixer, each scamming users out of between $40 to $60 dollars.
In similar online scams, it has been claimed the wrongdoers also misused the credit card information they received from customers. However, the original FTC complaint did not allege that the D'Souzas did this.
Scareware Scamster Promises Best Behavior
As well as paying the financial penalty, Marc D'Souza has promised that he will never again make deceptive claims regarding security software, use domain names registered with bogus details, or falsely claim to represent a third party. The last point refers to allegations that D'Souza tricked advertising networks into hosting the ads that triggered the bogus scans.
In a related case, one other individual and one company have previously reached settlements with the FTC. There is one further defendant in the case against whom legal action is ongoing.
The one individual who did previously settle paid just $116,000 in fines, suggesting either that the FTC believes the D'Souzas were the real ringleaders, or that it has seriously stepped up the intensity of its crackdown. (Source: theregister.co.uk)