Scaring Users Into Buying Bogus AntiVirus And Porn Scrubbing Software Gets $160M Fine

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Sheryl Sandberg: We’re More Afraid Of Losing By Standing Still

The Federal Trade Commission brought the hammer down on predatory advertisers who scare users into believing that their system is infected with virus and porn. The peddlers of so-called “scareware” are facing a $163 million fine for  misrepresenting “expressly or by implication, that they had conducted scans of consumers’ computers and detected security or privacy issues, including viruses, spyware, system errors, and pornography.” Users who surf the Internet enough will recognize scareware advertisements as the ones pretending to have found malicious content on their computers and then, conveniently, offer an expensive solution ($30-$100) to fix it.

Scareware crime bosses Kristy Ross, Sam Jain, and Daniel Sundin will jointly share the lion’s share of the fine, which is nearly triple the amount ($60 million) the team took in from 2000 to 2008. The full opinion can be read here [PDF]. The lesson here is don’t be a jerk: the government will, rightly so, bring on the pain.