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Scareware Author Slammed With 4-Year Prison Sentence

By - Source: U.S. Department of Justice | B 17 comments

A Swedish man was sentenced to 4 years in prison for establishing the payment processing for scareware.

The Department of Justice announced on Friday that a Swedish credit card payment processor was sentenced to 48 months in prison and to pay $650,000 in forfeiture for his role in an international cybercrime ring that netted $71 million.

According to the Department of Justice, 37-year-old Mikael Patrick Sallnert was arrested in Denmark on Jan. 19, 2012, and extradited to the United States in March 2012. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of accessing a protected computer in furtherance of fraud.

Sallnert was responsible for facilitating payment processing that collected millions of dollars from victims who were duped by the scareware software created by his co-conspirators. In his plea agreement, he admitted to knowing that his payment processing service would be used to acquire funds fraudulently, that victims would be duped into purchasing fake software.

"Payment processors like this defendant are the backbone of the cybercrime underworld," said U.S. Attorney Durkan. "As an established businessman, this defendant put a stamp of legitimacy on cyber criminals.  He was involved in defrauding thousands of victims, and his actions contributed to insecurities in e-commerce that stifle the development of legitimate enterprises and increase the costs of e-commerce for everyone."

This scareware ring supposedly tricked approximately 960,000 innocent victims into purchasing fake anti-virus software. Scareware is essentially a trojan that's silently installed on a PC and pops up an alert claiming to have discovered numerous (bogus) infections in the system. To eradicate these threats, users are encouraged to purchase the anti-virus software through "aggressive and disruptive" notifications. Those who eventually cave in fork over their credit card to "activate" the fake anti-virus client.

This is where Sallnert came in. According to court documents, between approximately August 2008 and October 2009, the payment processing mechanisms established by Sallnert processed approximately $5 million in credit card payments on behalf of the scheme.

"The scareware scheme used a variety of ruses to trick consumers into unknowingly infecting their computers with the malicious scareware products, including web pages featuring fake computer scans," the DoJ said. "Once the scareware was downloaded, victims were notified that their computers were infected with a range of malicious software, such as viruses and Trojans and badgered into purchasing the fake antivirus software to resolve the non-existent problem at a cost of up to $129."

The prosecution of Sallnert is part of Operation Trident Tribunal, an ongoing, coordinated enforcement action targeting international cybercrime. This particular case is being investigated by the FBI Seattle Division Cyber Task Force and other FBI entities. 

 

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  • -8 Hide
    joytech22 , December 18, 2012 11:10 PM
    I think before people are allowed to buy their next PC, they should be forced to sit in a class to learn about these kinds of threats and how to avoid, remove and ignore them. (Or take a test to show you are knowledgeable on the subject or have a family member/friend who is)

    It should be a license of sorts (for free) that doesn't let you into the system unless you have a license to use a computer (only during initial setup do you need to put this code in) to show you aren't a clueless idiot who's about to be scammed out of hundreds or even thousands upon the first fake virus scanner.
  • -5 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 18, 2012 11:24 PM
    In prison: "Hi honey! My name's spike!"
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , December 18, 2012 11:39 PM
    Natural selection.
  • 3 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 18, 2012 11:43 PM
    InSoManyWaysNatural selection.


    More than 99.99% of the global GDP is based on trust. Societies to relationships can't exist without trust.

    In a study, the researchers noticed that economies were usually weaker in societies with weak trust (usually because of political or other instabilities).
  • 7 Hide
    Marcus52 , December 19, 2012 12:06 AM
    Thank you U.S. Department of Justice! Well done!
  • 8 Hide
    freggo , December 19, 2012 12:24 AM
    Not enough...
  • -4 Hide
    Onus , December 19, 2012 12:56 AM
    He needed to get Death. The games will continue...
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 19, 2012 1:44 AM
    hastenI was so pissed when I was just trying to look at some ladies on the internet on my old junker laptop and suddenly I got the "FBI is coming for me if I don't send $200" virus. That peice of crap virus corrupted the recovery software as well. Soooo I got to explain to my wife what the heck that message was when she for some reason decided to open that laptop up (probably to look at some gents on the internet lol).Anywho, he deserves much worse if only for that argument.


    You know what's even more fun?

    When your hard drive, the ENTIRE HARD DRIVE, is encrypted in 256-bit AES, and a popup tells to to pay $300 to undo it.
  • 2 Hide
    beayn , December 19, 2012 2:03 AM
    A Bad DayYou know what's even more fun?When your hard drive, the ENTIRE HARD DRIVE, is encrypted in 256-bit AES, and a popup tells to to pay $300 to undo it.
    I haven't heard of that one... Encrypting a 500gb to 2TB drive would take hours though, you didn't notice it grinding away?
  • 3 Hide
    nebun , December 19, 2012 2:48 AM
    only 4 years?....what a joke
  • 0 Hide
    techcurious , December 19, 2012 3:19 AM
    beaynI haven't heard of that one... Encrypting a 500gb to 2TB drive would take hours though, you didn't notice it grinding away?

    Perhaps the Hidden attribute was applied to his files so they looked like they were gone.. I have seen that happen to people before.. the content (but not the folder itself) of their documents or music folder have been turned to hidden.. simply enabling the "Show Hidden Files.." open was a simple fix there.. and then unhiding them after that..
  • 0 Hide
    bllue , December 19, 2012 12:34 PM
    Seriously?! How does this guy get a prison sentence but that btch Kristy Ross got a slap in the wrist? That woman created software that netted hundreds of millions, scammed millions of people and potentially led to the identity theft of thousands of people. Look her up, she and her accomplices were only fined $163 million and that's only a fraction of what they profited.
  • -1 Hide
    spentshells , December 19, 2012 12:51 PM
    nebunonly 4 years?....what a joke


    Wall street robbed you of trillions bit yeah let's lynch this guy
  • 1 Hide
    rebel1280 , December 19, 2012 1:12 PM
    spentshellsWall street robbed you of trillions bit yeah let's lynch this guy

    Wall street didn't rob me of sh*t. My job didnt change, my title didnt change, a matter of fact I got a raise, and way more than just the tiny living expense per year raise. This guy almost had my mom clicking on his BS scam if she had not called me to make sure. So yeah, lynch this guy. Dont mess with a dudes mom :)  you get lynched in TX for that.
  • 0 Hide
    dextermat , December 19, 2012 1:46 PM
    He should be Neutering just to be sure he doesn't spawn any other ugly-ripp-of-son-of-a-bastard
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 19, 2012 3:49 PM
    beaynI haven't heard of that one... Encrypting a 500gb to 2TB drive would take hours though, you didn't notice it grinding away?


    I think it occurred after I left the computer on overnight so it could install a service pack.

    Nevertheless, I nuked the hard drive after the encryption assault and used a backup.
  • 0 Hide
    Pherule , December 19, 2012 7:00 PM
    A Bad DayYou know what's even more fun?When your hard drive, the ENTIRE HARD DRIVE, is encrypted in 256-bit AES, and a popup tells to to pay $300 to undo it.

    You know what's even more fun? Not making regular backups and running Windows without an antivirus.
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