Business, Economics and Jobs

Scamware creator charged whopping $163 million


Dirk Engling, of Chaos Computer Club, shows the control software for the Trojan spyware allegedly made by the German authorities (R) monitoring the traffic on a remote computer (L). The club cracked the spying software that could allow German authorities to peer through webcams. The news has sparked outrage among politicians and media commentators.


Odd Andersen

Notorious scamware creator Kristy Ross and two of her company co-founders have been charged $163 million by a Maryland federal court at the request of the FTC, ending a reign of Internet "scareware" terror.

According to the FTC, Ross was initially charged along with six other defendants in 2008 with creating "scamware," software that convinces a gullible user that their computer is infected with a virus - then sells them a faux solution to their invented problem.

It's also known as "scareware," largely because it operates by terrifying users into purchasing a product they don't actually need.

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You've probably seen those "Free Security Scans" on offer while surfing the Internet—and hopefully didn't fall for the trick, as the scans inevitably find some sort of malicious virus on your computer which only their remarkable service can eliminate. (Hint: there's probably nothing wrong).

The FTC estimates over a million users did in fact fall for the gambit, eliciting hefty profits for Ross and her co-conspirators. Ross was the final defendent in the case, and was hit with the largest fine.

According to, Ross's fake programs included WinFixer, WinAntiVirus, and WinAntiVirusPro, among others. Hopefully you were never suckered in.

Besides the fine, the court decreed that Ross “shall be permanently restrained and enjoined from the marketing and sale of computer security software and software that interferes with consumers’ computer use, as well as from engaging in any form of deceptive marketing," says ArsTechnica.

Did you accidentally install Winfixer? Sucks to be you, but here's a solution.