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.
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.