Feeds

Scareware mongers cough up $8m to settle fraud charges

More than a million duped

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Federal authorities will collect $8 million from members of a scareware operation that duped more than a million people into installing bogus security software on their computers.

Marc D'Souza and his father, Maurice D'Souza, agreed to pay $8.2 million in “ill-gotten gains” generated by the scam, which pimped software titles such as Winfixer, Drive Cleaner, and Antivirus XP. The operation worked by plastering legitimate websites with ads that were manipulated to look like antivirus scans that inevitably found infections that could only be fixed with packages that ranged from $40 to $60 in price.

The US Federal Trade Commission – which in 2008 brought fraud charges against Innovative Marketing, ByteHosting Internet Services, and several individuals – alleged the operation went to great lengths to trick some of the world's more popular websites into carrying the deceptive ads. When one site rejected the ads, the defendants formed sham advertising agencies that placed the malicious ads themselves.

The FTC has come under criticism in the past for delivering mild wrist slaps to internet-based fraudsters who are blatantly breaking the law. The case against Innovative Marketing and ByteHost shows the agency's better side. Government prosecutors doggedly pursued the defendants, some based overseas, after they failed to appear at court hearings and flouted a judge's order that they shut down their operation.

In 2009, defendant James Reno agreed to pay a reduced penalty of $116,000 and promised to get out of the scareware business for good. The FTC has already obtained default judgements against three other defendants. The case continues against the sole remaining defendant in the case, Kristy Ross.

More from the FTC is here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.