Computer Crime Research Center


AG vs scammers

Date: January 02, 2007

There ought to be a special place in hell for the perpetrators of Internet scams that slip unbidden into our e-mail inboxes.

Failing that, we’d like to see more law-enforcement successes like state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s $1 million settlement in the state’s first lawsuit under a new computer spyware law.

In this case, the method of deception was old, although the technology is modern: Offer a free inspection, find damage, sell an unnecessary repair job.

That’s what the AG accused New York-based Secure Computer of doing by using “scareware” to prompt computer users to buy anti-spyware protection they didn’t need or that wouldn’t work against a real threat.

Spyware is malicious software that captures personal information that could be used for identity theft or other forms of fraud. Secure Computer’s email advertising offered free scans that would invariably detect spyware on a user’s computer and offer a program to remove it.

Investigators found that Secure Computer’s software “detected” spyware even on clean computers and failed to detect spyware on infected machines.
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