Sneaky Anti-Spyware Sellers Told To Stop

from the two-down...-how-many-to-go? dept

A few months ago, the FTC shut down a scam operation that offered people a “free scan” for spyware and always told them that they had spyware (they never did any actual scanning). They then sold them an anti-spyware app that didn’t actually remove any spyware. It appears that this is a popular scam, as the FTC has hit another such company with an injunction. This company used sneaky pop-up ads to make people think they had spyware on their computer. One sample ad actually makes it look like it’s installing spyware as you watch. What’s interesting, though, is that Brian McWilliams’ notes that the product is still available for download at CNET’s, where it has a decent user rating (reason number 753 why you shouldn’t necessarily trust user ratings…). Still, all this really shows is that the same old scams keep working. Years ago, there was a company named Bonzi that ran pop up ads trying to trick people into believing they had viruses on their computer. In that case, the company settled by agreeing to make it more obvious that their ads were just ads, but with so many companies still using the same technique, it seems like somewhat more stringent punishment would make sense. Update: We’ve been given some more information suggesting that the Bonzi case isn’t analogous, but was more about overly aggressive marketing, as opposed to fraudulent marketing, as the original writeup may have implied.

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