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By: David Brancaccio, NPR
The penalty: $163, 167, 539.95. The crime? Using something called "Scareware." If you've used a PC in the past several years, you've probably seen some version of it. This particular fraudulent scam on the Internet delivers fake pop ups while you're online that say some version of "you've got a virus," followed by a prompt to solve the problem and clean up your computer with the help of your credit card. Of course, once you're that far, they're quite possibly helping you dissassemble your computer's security system as well.
This week, the FTC is continuing a multinational crackdown on this particular kind of scam, shutting off phone lines, cutting off bank accounts, and even delivering that whopping $163 million fine to at least one of the accused scareware users. Kurt Baumgartner, security researcher for computer security firm Kaspersky Lab, says it's a longstanding scam.
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