For Release: June 23, 2005
â€œScansâ€ Detected Spyware That Wasnâ€™t There; Spyware Removal Software Claims Were False.
An operation that used bogus â€œscansâ€ and illegal spam to market an anti-spyware program that didnâ€™t work as claimed has had its assets frozen and been barred from making deceptive claims by a stipulated preliminary injunction order issued by a U.S. District Court judge at the request of the Federal Trade Commission. The agency alleges that the operation violated federal laws and has asked the court to permanently bar the deceptive marketing and order redress for consumers.
The FTC alleges that to capitalize on legitimate consumer concerns about spyware and induce consumers to download its anti-spyware product, â€œSpyKiller,â€ the operation aggressively and deceptively marketed SpyKiller, using the Web sites of affiliates, banner and pop-up ads, and spam.
The FTC alleges defendants sent pop-up and e-mail messages informing consumers that their computers had been remotely â€œscannedâ€ and that spyware had been â€œdetectedâ€ even though defendants had not performed any such scans. The defendantsâ€™ marketing materials urged consumers to access the SpyKiller Web site to get a â€œfree scanâ€ for spyware. While the SpyKiller â€œscanâ€ was running, the program displayed a status report entitled â€œSpyware Found on your PC:â€ that included a category called â€œLive Spyware Processes.â€ In fact, the FTC alleges, this category deceptively identified anti-virus programs, word processing programs, or any of the processes running on the system as spyware. Then, even though the â€œscanâ€ itself was free, consumers had to pay roughly $39.95 to enable SpyKillerâ€™s â€œremovalâ€ capabilities. Defendants promised in their marketing materials that SpyKiller would find and remove â€œallâ€ spyware, including â€œall tracesâ€ of particular spyware on consumersâ€™ computers. However, the FTC complaint alleges the software failed to remove significant amounts of spyware, including specified spyware defendants claimed on their Web site to remove. The agency alleges that the deceptive claims violate the FTC Act.
The FTC also alleges that spam messages promoting the SpyKiller software contained similar deceptive claims, failed to identify themselves as advertising, used false â€œfromâ€ lines, gave no valid postal addresses, and failed to provide consumers with notice of and the ability to â€œopt-out,â€ in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.
The court entered a temporary restraining order on June 1, 2005, and a stipulated preliminary injunction order on June 14, 2005. The agency is seeking a permanent ban on the deceptive claims and will ask the court to order consumer redress from defendants Trustsoft, Inc. and its Houston, Texas-based principal, Danilo Ladendorf.
One more down, and hopefully out … however as noted at the bottom of the article … we’ll have to wait to see what the ‘courts’ do with this before we can really jump up and down for joy.
We will be watching that closely.