In an operation dubbed Trident Tibunal, the FBI raided two gangs believed to be selling scareware.
Scareware is malicious, fake security software that is used by scammers to dupe users into thinking their computers have viruses. Users are then encouraged to buy a particular anti-virus program (scareware) to get rid of the virus.
The first gang used different methods to lead people to a website where they could download software that would check for viruses. This fake software would then warn the users about threats on their computers, and advertise a particular security software that would get rid of these threats.
The FBI reports that about 960,000 people were duped into paying about $72 million for the fake security software. The FBI raid resulted in the seizure of 40 computers and servers, as well as bank accounts in Latvia. No arrests have been made.
The second gang pretended to be an ad agency and placed their ads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. After the ads were approved, the gang members changed their code so that they would install fake security software on users’ computers. This fake software rendered the machines unusable until cash was handed over. This scam is believed to have generated $2 million.
Two gang members, Peteris Sahurovs & Marina Maslobojeva, were arrested during the second raid.
According to the FBI, “Because of the magnitude of the schemes, law enforcement agencies here and abroad are continuing their investigative efforts.”