McKenna settles scareware suit
SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna announced on Tuesday that his office has reached an agreement with scareware companies owned by a Mississippi resident.
The assurance of discontinuance agreement was reached with multiple companies all owned and operated by Bruce Christopher Cope. Scareware purveyors are companies accused of using "free scans" and deceptive warnings to sell registry cleaners and anti-spyware programs for computers.
The companies named in the agreement include e-Next Media Inc, 2Squared Software LLC, c-Net Media Inc., PC Utility Inc., Antispyware LLC, and C&C Networks Inc. The products were sold on various websites including Spyware Remover, Spyware Stop, RegRecall, SpywareBot, Error Killer, MalwareBot, RegistryBot and Ad-ware Alert.
McKenna's office alleged that the defendants marketed these programs after encouraging consumers to download a "free scan" that always found registry errors or spyware infections. Allegedly, several of the programs routinely flagged harmless Internet cookies as "infections" or "parasites."
McKenna's office alleged that to fix the problems consumers had to buy the full version of the software for as much as $39.99. The websites allegedly used identical customer testimonials. Users who registered certain products would receive messages like "If your PC has any errors or corrupt files, it could be a matter of time before your PC will crash!"
The agreement filed Tuesday in Thurston County Superior Court does not require the defendants to admit any wrongdoing, but the defendants do agree not to engage in marketing practice that violate the consumer protection laws of the state. In addition, the companies will reimburse the state $9,000 for attorneys' fees and related costs.