SEATTLE – The Washington Attorney General’s Office – a nationwide leader in enforcement actions against scareware purveyors – announced an agreement today with yet another collection of companies accused of using deceptive warnings and “free scans” to sell anti-spyware programs and registry cleaners.
The companies are owned and operated by Mississippi resident Bruce Christopher Cope. They include e-Next Media, Inc.; c-Net Media, Inc.; 2Squared Software, LLC; Antispyware, LLC; PC Utility, Inc, and C&C Networks, Inc.
Their products are sold on numerous Web sites and include SpywareStop, SpywareBot, Spyware Remover, MalwareBot, Ad-ware Alert, RegistryBot, Error Killer, RegRecall and others.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the defendants marketed the programs by encouraging consumers to download a “free scan” that always found spyware infections or registry errors. Several of the programs routinely flagged harmless Internet cookies as “parasites” or “infections.”
In order to fix the problems, consumers were required to purchase a full version of the software for as much as $39.99
In addition, users who registered certain products received messages such as “You’ve reached this page because your PC has errors or corrupt files which need to be removed or repaired …” and “If your PC has any errors or corrupt files, it could be a matter of time before your PC will crash!”
Many of the sites used identical consumer testimonials.
The agreement filed today in Thurston County Superior Court doesn’t require the defendants to admit any wrongdoing. However, they agree not to engage in marketing practices that violate the state’s consumer protection laws and to reimburse the state $9,000 for attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.
Assistant Attorney General Jake Bernstein handled the case.
C-Net Media’s business practices were called out by prominent security blogger and Harvard professor Benjamin Edelman in 2008. (The company is unrelated to the well-known technology news site CNET Networks.)Assurance of Discontinuance
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432