A U.S. judge has imposed a $163.2 million judgment against the vice-president of an operation accused by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission of distributing “scareware” to unwitting consumers.

The FTC said Ukraine-based Innovative Marketing used “scareware” to trick computer owners into thinking their machines were infected with malicious software. The company then sold their dupes software to “fix” their non-existent problem.

Judge Richard Bennett of U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ordered Innovative Marketing business development vice-president Kristy Ross, the final defendant in case, to permanently abstain from selling computer security software and to avoid any form of deceptive marketing.

The FTC filed a complaint against Ross and a number of other defendants in 2008 for allegedly conning more than 1 million consumers into buying the bogus software.

The FTC said the operation used complex Internet ads, which convinced computer users a system scan had detected malicious software and other dangerous files on their computer.  The ads recommended computer users buy the company’s software for $40 to $60.

Defendants Marc D’Souza and his father, Maurice D’Souza, were — under a settlement announced in 2011 — ordered to give up $8.2 million. Two other defendants previously settled the charges against them. The FTC obtained default judgments against three other defendants.

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$163M Judgment Against ‘Scareware’ Marketer

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