Bloomberg News

International Computer Scam Disrupted After $72 Million Lost

June 22, 2011

(Updates with number of victims in third paragraph.)

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Authorities disrupted an international scam that infected computers with a virus that helped sell $72 million worth of bogus security software, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The software, known as scareware, tells users they need to purchase what’s described as anti-virus software to repair their machines, the Justice Department said in a statement today. Computer users received a barrage of notifications seeking credit-card numbers to pay for fake anti-virus software, the department said.

An estimated 960,000 computer users in the U.S. and elsewhere were victimized, according to the Justice Department. The fake repair software sold for as much as $129.

Authorities seized computers and servers in the U.S. and in countries including the Netherlands, Latvia, U.K. and France that were linked to the scam, according to the statement. Latvian authorities seized bank accounts that were allegedly used to funnel profits from the scam.

The investigation is continuing and no documents were filed publicly in the U.S. indicating charges had been filed, according to Alisa Finelli, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

Also today, the Justice Department said two people were indicted in Minnesota and arrested in Latvia in connection with online advertising that infected computers with malicious software prompting users to buy bogus anti-virus software. That scam resulted in at least $2 million in losses, the department said.

--Editors: Jim Rubin, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Blum in Washington at jblum4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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