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FTC Files Petition against MySpace Hackers

On January 31, 2008, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) filed a complaint against two phishers, Walter Rines, and his business associate, Sanford Wallace, in the US District Court of New Hampshire for infringing an earlier agreement they signed with FTC. FTC in his petition has bluntly accused Rines and his partner for violating the settlement by chipping in a MySpace phishing campaign.

The petition said that the accused distributed content to the users without their permission, and apart from that, redirected the users to malicious Websites' junk ads. The FTC said that defendants used "mousetrapping" technique, which stops users to find the way away from redirects. The process is often carried out by launching a series of pop-up ads or by opening up windows that can not be closed.

In the month of October 2006, Walter Rines entered into an agreement with FTC on a complaint that stated that the spyware operation of Walter Rines was attracting users to a malicious Website that was downloading unwanted software into user's personal computers deceptively.

Walter Rines, who owns a company called Odysseus Marketing, has decided to enter into a settlement for their ill-gotten benefits by forfeiting US$50,000. The defendant has also decided to stop engaging into stealthy downloads that was flagged as an advertisement on company's Website as free program/software. The company's Website also hosted an unidentified Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing service which came packed with spyware, which seized and substituted search results barraging users' computers with pop-up advertisements.

The software also had the capability to steal personal information of the users, and above all, users who got infected with the spyware were not able to uninstall or locate the spyware. The district court has finally decided to settle the issue by bringing in a permanent ban on the practices and has ordered the company to stop the malicious practices.

The permanent ban ordered by the court further prohibits the defendants to redirect the computers of the users, to change the default home page of the Web browser, and refraining from altering or substituting the functionality of the computer application. The court orders have restricted Rines and his company to download or distribute any content to the user's computer from their side, without their prior consent.

Related article: FTC Reaches Million-Dollar Settlement For Spyware

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