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Scareware and the AntiVirus 360 Scam

The Rover

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I found this article on Wikipedia. It says they think over a MILLION people were scammed into purchasing this "software". The FTC and states have sued various comapnies over this scam:

Scareware and the AntiVirus 360

MS Antivirus, also known as XP Antivirus; Vitae Antivirus; Windows Antivirus; Win Antivirus; Antivirus Pro; Antivirus Pro 2009; Antivirus 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and --------Antivirus 360---------; System Antivirus; Vista Antivirus; AntiSpywareMaster; and XP AntiSpyware 2009, is a scareware rogue anti-virus which claims to remove bogus virus infections found on a computer running Microsoft Windows if a user purchases the full version of the software

Scareware is several classes of software, often with limited or no benefit, that are sold to consumers by certain unethical marketing practices. The selling approach is designed to cause shock, anxiety, or threats, generally directed at an unsuspecting user. Some forms of spyware and adware also use scareware tactics.

Scareware is also used to describe software products that while serving some desired purpose also produce a lot of frivolous and alarming warnings or threat notices, most typically commercial firewall and registry cleaner software. This class of program tries to increase its perceived value by bombarding the user with constant warning messages that do not increase its effectiveness in any way.

Some websites display pop-up advertisement windows or banners with text such as: "Your computer may be infected with harmful spyware programs. Immediate removal may be required. To scan, click 'Yes' below." These websites go as far as saying that a user's job, career, or marriage would be at risk. Products using advertisements such as these are often considered scareware. serious scareware applications qualify as Rogue software.

In recent findings some scareware is not affiliated with any other installed programs. A user can be approached with a pop-up from a website indicating that their PC is infected. In some scenarios it is possible to become infected with scareware even if the user attempts to cancel the notification. These popups are especially designed to look like they are from the user's operating system when they are actually a webpage.

In 2005, Microsoft and Washington state successfully sued Secure Computer (makers of Spyware Cleaner) for One Million Dollars over charges of using scareware pop-ups. The attorney general has also brought lawsuits against Securelink Networks, High Falls Media and the makers of Quick Shield.

In October 2008, Microsoft and the Washington attorney general filed a lawsuit against two Texas firms, Branch Software and Alpha Red, producers of the "Registry Cleaner XP" scareware. The lawsuit alleges that the company sent incessant pop-ups resembling system warnings to consumers' personal computers stating "CRITICAL ERROR MESSAGE! - REGISTRY DAMAGED AND CORRUPTED", before instructing users to visit a web site to download Registry Cleaner XP at a cost of $39.95, Which can be considered suspicious compared to more legitimate programs which sell for a typical price of just $19.99 to 29.99.

The Federal Trade Commission also won a restraining order in December 2008 against two US companies, Innovative Marketing, Inc. and ByteHosting Internet Services who are responsible for marketing the scareware applications WinFixer, WinAntivirus, DriveCleaner, ErrorSafe and --------Antivirus 360--------- (XP Antivirus). It is estimated that they managed to trick over a million US customers into buying their fake products.

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That's definitely malware; we have had 2 run-ins with it in the last year. The popups are incessant and prevent you from being able to use your computer. The first time (summer), the only thing that got rid of it was an antivirus/spyware program called Vipre (we did the free trial and ended up purchasing a year of service); McAfee, spybot, etc. didn't do anything. The second time (at the holidays) we also had to take the PC in to Staples to get it cleaned; as our Windows Update function had become disabled.

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