A woman who ran a huge 'scareware' fraud was charged $163 million by U.S. authorities.
Kristy Ross ran a successful operation that tricked victims into thinking their computer had been infected with malicious software. The users were then charged between $40 and $60 to "fix" the fake spyware.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been pursuing the case against Ross and her associates since 2008. Others who ran similar scams that were investigated by the FTC have been ordered to return millions of dollars from their earnings. Last year, for example, Marc D'Souza and his father, Maurice D'Souza, were ordered to pay $8.2 million of their "ill-gotten" profits.
As for Ross, who has since been permanently banned from selling computer security software, she spearheaded a scheme that utilized a pop-up advertisement that told users a "system scan" was taking place -- I'm sure we've all seen some sort of these annoying ads that don't let you leave until you click the "Are you sure you want to leave?" button.
The bogus scan method was described by the FTC as "elaborate and technologically sophisticated". The product names pertaining to the scam includes the likes of Winfixer, DriveCleaner, FreeRepair, WinAntivirus, WinAntispyware and System Doctor.
Ross was involved a Ukraine-based company called Innovative Marketing, as well as ByteHosting Internet Services. She was apparently successful in targeting more than a million computer systems.