Friday, June 24, 2011

Random News Generator- Latvia

Have you ever gotten a pop-up ad that launches into a virus scan you didn't ask for? Yeah, me too. I'll bet it found all sorts of nasty viruses and stuff in your computer, too, right? And then of course they'd offer some sort of antivirus software to fix all these problems you just found out about. Sometimes the ad is particularly persistent and reappears when you try to close the window.

In case you didn't already know, that pop-up ad is lying about all the viruses it found. The antivirus software that's being pushed on you? THAT'S a virus. It's known as scareware. It's a 21st-century version of those quack doctors that tell you you've got cancer, venereal disease, consumption, typhoid, dysentery, snakebite and broken leg all at the same time, and then they sell you a cure-all pill named after Dr. Somebody-or-Other that turns out to have mercury in it.

Due to the RNG landing on Latvia today, it is my pleasure to tell you that two international scareware rings that specialize in that kind of stunt have been rounded up by the FBI and US Department of Justice in a hunt called Operation Trident Tribunal. Trident Tribunal, aside from Latvia and the United States, has also involved Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

One ring was a two-man operation consisting- allegedly- of 22-year-old Peteris Sahurovs and 23-year-old Marina Maslobojeva. If you regularly visit the site of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, you've run into them at some point. Sahurovs and Maslobojeva are accused of having created a fake ad agency and told the Star-Tribune they represented Best Western. Once accepted by the Star-Tribune, they swapped the original ads for Best Western out for ads that triggered scareware.

By doing this, Star-Tribune readers were allegedly bilked out of $2 million. If you have at some point purchased something called "Antivirus Soft" for $49.95 after visiting the Star-Tribune website, you've been conned.

The other ring, a much larger operation, raked in $72 million from some 960,000 victims who got taken for $129 each. Five different bank accounts were seized from this larger ring. Paradoxially, less info is available on this ring than on the two-man Latvian operation.

Granted, as long as the info is 'the scary antivirus ad people are going to go away now', you probably could care less how they go away.

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