It was just a few short days ago that the FTC brought lawsuits against two well known spyware pushers. Rather than go through a lengthy and costly court process, the targets of said lawsuits instead rolled over and have settled with the FTC.
One company will be paying far less than the $1.75 Million threatened, with Walter Rines of Odysseus Marketing paying a mere $10,000. The other target, originally pegged for a $1.86 Million fine, will be forced to cough up $40,000 – largely because the company and its owner are broke:
Mailwiper punted bogus anti-spyware products marketed under the names Spy Wiper and Spy Deleter. Affiliates of the firm, including infamous former spammer Sanford Wallace, exploited IE vulnerabilities to distribute spyware to promote the product, the FTC alleges. The settlement also imposes a $1.86m judgment on Martinson (Mailwiper's main man) which is suspended, except for $40,000, based on his inability to pay. Wallace was previously fined $4m over his role in distributing Spy Wiper and Spy Deleter, products which failed to live up to their promises of cleaning up infected PCs.
The fines are so small that they are unlikely to be a real deterrent to others, though it helps set the pace for more action in the future. One day, perhaps the Zangos of the world will be minority players on the net, rather than gaping wounds in its belly.