Scareware Indictments Put Cybercriminals on Notice

Posted by Tim Cranton
Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit
Today the FBI announced federal indictments returned against three culprits charged with disseminating a major malware scheme believed to have caused $100 million in losses to victims worldwide. The scheme revolved around a form of malware called “scareware,” which falsely persuades consumers that they need to purchase useless and expensive software to protect their computers. Microsoft is proud to have supported the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice in these cases, which send a clear and important message to cyber-criminals that they will be caught and brought to justice.
The scheme in these indictments was global, complex and sophisticated. The scareware went by various names, including WinFixer – meant to mislead consumers into associating the bogus software with trusted Microsoft products. At one time, WinFixer and its variants are thought to have been responsible for 75 percent of scareware worldwide.
Two of the three defendants indicted in this case are non-U.S. residents, accused of working with an Ohio resident to perpetrate the scheme. This illustrates how cybercrime has become global. Boundaries and jurisdictions are irrelevant to cyber-criminals. The problem can’t be tackled by any single entity working alone; strong cooperation is needed among governments, law enforcement and technology companies.
In the period leading up to these indictments, investigators from Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, with the support of Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center and Customer Support Services, helped provide data to the FBI on damages caused by the scheme. We also testified before the grand jury to provide forensic analysis on the malware involved. Microsoft participated in the case not only because the scheme traded on Microsoft’s name and trademarks as a means of luring victims, but also because we believe in the importance of a trustworthy and reliable computing experience for everyone.
The Department of Justice and the FBI have put a stake in the ground to protect consumers; at Microsoft, we stand beside them in the fight to make the Internet a safer place.

Comments (12)

  1. fred says:

    An even better way to deal with individuals who scare people into putting malware on their system is:

    Sell an OS that isn't as vulnerable to malware.

  2. Mark says:

    @Fred don't be stupid. Do you any perfect OS, or do u even know any humans work that is perfect ? If Windows is attacked it is just because it's the most popular and the most successful. Period

  3. Raul says:

    @Mark: Agree.

    @Fred: Made one such OS and after having more than 40% of market share I will take you seriously.

  4. sm says:

    @raul Agree. Just like terrorists again freedom attack the USA rather than Sweden.  

  5. Comrade says:

    FBI + MICROSOFT = what a couple !!!

    FBI in the road to protect MS !!!

  6. TimL says:

    Go Microsoft, Diehard Microsoft fan here, running Windows Seven – YES! We need to take these malware guys down.. make my job a lot easier too (technical support)

  7. Gladson says:


    Even if an OS is created that is invulnerable to Malware, What do you say about the user sitting in front of the computer who doesn't even know what he is installing or doesn't even read the TOS of any software that he/she is installing. The TOS of a software may state that "It will download periodical updates and those updates may be linked to malware", and what does the user do when he/she installs the software. "THEY JUST CLICK THE 'I AGREE' BUTTON AND CONTINUE", and then they blame the OS.

  8. txblueh says:

    I commend Microsof and our FBI for all thier efforts for apprehending the cyber terorist! Thank You very much and punish them as a terorist Keep  me informed!

  9. Mrs. S C Williams of Wilmington,NC USA Citizen, Former WAC member,Taxpayer,Mother,Grandmother need I says:

    I am so very sick and tired of these unmitigated fools makinging my life and that of others in the family misarable. It is costing us X amount of dollars a year to get rid of these insidious virises, scareware,malware whateverware on our innocent computers. What are we supposed to do? Does anyone out there in Net-Land really care. I don't think so. Otherwise Why in this day and age are these little whatevers allowed to disrupt our valuable lives???? If I and my friends had our way they would be caught, serve at least a modicum of jail time then made to do community service. Like being forced to hear verbatim from every mother,father etc one of us who have had to deal with this unnecssisary this mess. My 83 year old mother doesnt open 98 percent of her mail because she is afrain a Hacker is going to get i computer while she is sleeping and destroy her computer while she sleeps. I just want them to know its not cute, funny, hilarious, even slightly amusing.Sorry to blather on but this kind of thing is one of my pet peeves. Mothers Unite help seek out these fools and turn them in to the authoroties. And get them the stiffer penalties under the LAW. Please dear god let get caught, once and for our protectors…Sharon C Williams…..  

  10. Jo Ann Boles says:

    I am tired of constantly removing viruses from my computer because of the hackers on Face Book.  They call themselves "Gamers Unite:.  What they do is hack into your computer and take what they want off of the game that you are playing.  The suggest themselves as a friend and then they do whatever they want to do.  You join this group and when they snag something off of a person's page, they will say, "Yea, we just snagged a big bonus or Yea we just snag a tree.  My personal experience with these hackers was someone coming onto my page taking two fruit stands and an airplane.  With these games, you are given coins to purchase merchandise.  Normally the merchandise cost 10,000 coins or 50, 000 coins.  It is just like you are spending actual money.  They need to be stopped because of the viruses they are leaving on your PC.

  11. cycler1959 says:

    they should be caught and execute on live TV. 5that would stop them. After to or three of these people are executed it would stop. Make it a capital offense.

  12. Ken Volz says:

    cycler1959 has the only fix I am in favor of. Most of the other reports have merit but no real teeth.

    Also maybe a few politicians on Sunday Evening.  

    As to FaceBook I have been dumped on twice.  Norton Internet Security 2011` caught them comming in and were sent to Symantec.

Skip to main content