The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has won a judgement for $163m against a marketer accused of defrauding users with phony security software.
A Maryland district court found Kristy Ross liable for the massive fee after deciding that the defendant had used malware to trick users into believing their systems were in danger and then charging to remove the infection.
The scam, known as a "scareware" operation, presents the user with phony alert messages and fake system scans. The operators often tell victims that their systems can only be "cleaned" by paying a registration fee for the security tool.
According to the court, Ross' operation used the tactic of fake system scans to dupe users into paying $40 to $60 apiece for the purchase of the phoney security tools.
The FTC said that it originally brought the charges against Ross in 2008 as part of a larger crackdown on the operators of scareware scams. According to the Commission, Ross was one of seven individuals to be charged in the case and the last to have the proceedings resolved by a settlement or judgement in the FTC's favour.
The FTC's win comes as Microsoft is claiming victory in its efforts to stop a rash of software scams in China. The company struck a deal with a hosting firm in China to cut off all command and control operations for Nitrol, a botnet which had spread in the country through the sale of counterfeit versions of Microsoft Windows.
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