A US man who masterminded a scheme to make thousands of dollars by sending spam messages that fooled people into believing that their computers were infected by spyware has been fined almost £48,000. Zhijian Chen of Oregon sent the spam along with claims that a product called Spyware Cleaner was the solution. The courts have disagreed with his actions.

A lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna stated that Spyware Cleaner falsely claimed that computers were infected in an attempt to encourage PC users to pay $49.95 for a 'fully working' version.

According to court documents, Chen sent out emails and advertisements promoting Spyware Cleaner in exchange for a 75 per cent commission on each sale.