TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: NY Man to Settle in Washington's First Spyware Case

NY Man to Settle in Washington's First Spyware Case

Spam Daily News (
Wed, 10 May 2006 11:55:58 -0500

From Spam Daily News
New York man to settle in Washington's first spyware case

Gary T. Preston, of Jamaica, N.Y., will pay $7,200 in legal costs and
attorneys' fees, and the cost of the government's investigation and
prosecution. Investigators allege that Preston permitted Secure
Computer's Web domains to be registered in his name and provided his
credit card to make company purchases.

The settlement does not include any admission or finding of
wrongdoing, but prohibits Preston from assisting any person or
organization in disguising its identity from the public or law

"While his activities did not directly violate Washington's spyware
act, they made it much more difficult to identify the real seller of
Spyware Cleaner," Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna said.

Preston is the second defendant to settle in the Attorney General's
case against Secure Computer, based in White Plains, N.Y., and
associates in the United States and India.

Filed in January in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the lawsuit is the
office's first under the state's 2005 Computer Spyware Act and follows
a five-month investigation by the Attorney General's Consumer
Protection High-Tech Unit.

The suit alleges that Secure Computer has marketed and sold Spyware
Cleaner since at least 2004 through pop-up ads, spam e-mails, and
deceptive hyperlink ads that offer a "free scan."

The state's investigation found that this scan always detected spyware
on a user's computer, even if none existed. The investigation also
showed that the full version of Spyware Cleaner, available only by
purchase, failed to detect spyware on a deliberately infected computer
and erased the Hosts file, rendering the computer vulnerable to
potential attacks from unwanted programs.

"Software programs such as those used to sell Spyware Cleaner are
known as scareware because their intent is to cause anxiety," McKenna
said. "That sort of activity is deceptive and illegal under
Washington's spyware law."

Burke and Preston were both named as defendants in the suit. In
addition, three other individuals were charged in connection with
advertising Spyware Cleaner: Zhijian Chen, of Portland, Ore.; Seth
Traub, of Portsmouth, N.H., and Manoj Kumar, of Maharashtra, India.

The state reached a settlement with Chen in April. He will pay nearly
$84,000 in fines and consumer restitution and the government's
expenses for promoting Spyware Cleaner through Net Send messages sent
to personal computers throughout the United States. The messages
simulated system warnings. By agreeing to the settlement, Chen admits
violating Washington's Computer Spyware Act and Consumer Protection

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