US federal prosecutors have filed charges against three men for tricking internet users into buying over $100m (£69m) worth of fake security software.
The three men are alleged to have set up a company called Innovative Marketing, which sold software such as DriveCleaner and ErrorSafe for around $50 (£34) a time.
The software scans a user's system, purports to have found malware and then offers to remove it for a price.
Bjorn Daniel Sundin, 31, a US citizen believed to be living in the Ukraine, Shaileshkumar P. Jain, 40, a Swedish citizen thought to be living in Sweden, and James Reno, 26, of Amelia, Ohio, are accused of creating several fake advertising agencies that booked $85,000 (£58,000) worth of legitimate space which was never paid for.
Users clicking on the adverts were redirected to a web site which initiated the scareware selling process.
The trio is also alleged to have used the adverts to sell fake pharmaceuticals, and have each been formally charged with computer fraud and conspiracy to commit computer fraud as well as multiple counts of wire fraud.
If found guilty they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each case of wire fraud. The authorities are seeking to recover the profits from a Ukrainian bank.
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