A New Hampshire man has agreed to pay US$2,000 to settle charges that he misused Microsoft’s name to trick consumers into buying ineffective antispyware products, using Google’s AdWords program.
Seth Traub of Portsmouth, N.H., is the third person to settle a lawsuit filed in January by Microsoft and the Washington state attorney general’s office. The suit alleges that software vendor Secure Computer sold an antispyware product that not only fails to remove spyware as advertised, but actually makes users’ computers less secure.
Traub and two others, Zhijian Chen of Portland, Ore., and Manoj Kumar of Maharashtra, India, were charged with using inappropriate techniques to advertise Secure Computer’s Spyware Cleaner software. Last April, Chen paid $84,000 in fines after pleading guilty to violating Washington’s Computer Spyware Act.
A fourth man, Gary Preston of New York state, has paid $7,200 after allegedly allowing his name to be used as an alias by Secure Computer.
Traub ran ads, using Google’s AdWords program, to create an advertising link reading “Microsoft AntiSpyware.” It was displayed when users searched for terms like “Microsoft spyware cleaner,” or “Microsoft antispyware,” the attorney general said in a statement Tuesday.
Traub’s ads earned him 75 percent of the $49.95 unsuspecting users would spend to purchase a copy of Spyware Cleaner.
Traub has not admitted any wrongdoing in the settlement, which was finalized Monday, but will pay $2,000 in legal costs and attorneys’ fees, the attorney general’s office said.
The lawsuit against Secure Computer and its president, Paul Burke, is ongoing. It is the first to be filed under Washington’s 2005 Computer Spyware Act.
-Robert McMillan, IDG News Service
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