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Man Fined $100,000 for Selling Fake Security Software

A man from Scottsdale, Ariz, aged 21 years, was charged with persuading consumers to purchase a software that in reality converted their PCs into remotely controlled spamming machines. The defendant, however, accepted the court's order to stop marketing his programs, according to the Office of the Washington Attorney General on May 19, 2008.

In March 2008, the Attorney General's Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit sued Messenger Solutions, LLC, and proprietor, Ron Cooke. The lawsuit charged Cooke with violating Washington's Consumer Protection Act and Computer spyware Act when he marketed his software named variedly as WinAntiVirus Pro 2007, Messenger Blocker, WinAntiSpyware and System Doctor.

According to the court's settlement, Cooke is barred from using Net Send messages or fake security warnings in order to sell his products, install software onto a user's PC without informing that user, or mislead any consumer with incorrect advertising to boost his products' sale.

Cooke has to pay $5,000 to meet attorney's costs and $202 in compensation for damages done to nine Washington users who bought the software. Under the settlement, Cooke is also required to pay $100,000 as a civil penalty, which would be waived if Cooke adhered to the remaining settlement.

Katherine Tassi, Assistant to Attorney General, said the $100,000 fine lurking over Cooke's head could be taken as a cue for him and all other online sellers that the Attorney General's Office would not permit Internet anarchy, as reported by ConsumerAffairs on May 19, 2008.

The incident in question came to light and the Attorney General's Office launched an investigation in October 2007 following ads that flowed into a PC in the laboratory of the High-Tech Unit via Windows Messenger Service.

The complaint by the state alleged that Cooke used Windows Messenger Service, which allows network administrators to issue online notices to end-users, to bombard them with pop-ups advertisement for sexual-enhancement and porn products. Cooke then pushed more pop-ups to the same users to feign system warnings that directed them to a site offering to sell software to apparently block the pop-ups. Those, who installed the software, further aggravated the problem when the user's PC blasted stealthy messages to other computers.

Related article: Man Sues and Wins against ISP for Spamming Mail

» SPAMfighter News - 5/27/2008

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