CONSUMER WATCHDOG the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined a woman $163m for her part in an online scareware shakedown.
The FTC asked that a federal court hand out the fine to Kristy Ross because it wants to make an example of her and stop people from scaring US web users into handing over money or installing software that they can live without.
In addition to the fine Ross is also prohibited from selling computer security software or "any other software that interferes with consumers' computer use, and from any form of deceptive marketing".
Ross and five other defendants were behind a scam that exploited the trust of around a million US consumers, according to the FTC. They tricked them into believing that their computers were infected in some way and then sold them software to cure it. In fact none of this was true.
The defendants used adverts, you know the kind, to offer punters security scans of their machines. The FTC said that these were sophisticated, so they might be different than the ones that we have seen.
Those that fell for the scam were charged anywhere between $40 and $60 for software, called either Winfixer, Winantivirus, Drivecleaner, Errorsafe, or XP Antivirus, to clean up their machines.
It was a "massive scheme" said the FTC, one that it shut down in 2008. µ