US Authorities Fine ‘WinFixer’ Scareware Scammer $163m

We’ve all seen them, those fraudulent scareware malware programs: they pretend to scan your computer for viruses, of course always finding lots of them, then offering to “fix” them for a fee of between $40 and $60. Now, the woman behind a host of these garbage programs, Kristy Ross, has been caught and fined $163m (£101m) by the FTC for various scam products including WinFixer, DriveCleaner, FreeRepair, WinAntivirus, WinAntispyware and System Doctor. I’ve seen WinFixer several times myself on people’s computers and to the uninitiated it looks very frightening and intimidating. Not nice at all.

The Federal Trade Commission has been on this case for a long time now, since 2008 and as well as fining Ross, has banned her from selling any security related software. The FTC described the scams as “elaborate and technologically sophisticated”. Considering the size of the operation, we wonder just how much that $163m fine will eat into her ill-gotten stash of money?

Ms Ross was involved with two companies, Ukraine-based Innovative Marketing and ByteHosting Internet Services. It is believed that between them more than a million machines may have been targeted.


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