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Feds break up scareware crime rings

Twenty-two computers and servers n the U.S. were seized in connection with the scareware scheme.

The Department of Justice and FBI on Wednesday said they broke up two international cybercrime rings that caused more than $74 million in losses to more than one million computer users through the sale of fake security software.

Two Latvians were arrested and more than 40 computers, servers and bank accounts were seized as part of Operation Trident Tribunal, an international law enforcement effort targeting cybercrime, according to the DOJ. Twenty-two computers and servers in the U.S. were seized in connection with the scareware scheme.

One of the criminal groups allegedly sold more than $72 million in fake antivirus software over a three-year period, using a variety of scams to trick nearly 960,000 computer users. Latvian authorities also executed seizure warrants for five bank accounts that allegedly were used to funnel the scam leaders’ profits.

The second group used a malicious online ad to spread rogue antivirus products, authorities said. After the ad began running on a Minneapolis news website, the suspects changed the code in the ad so visitors to the website were infected with malware that launched the scareware, according to court documents. The fake antivirus caused computers to freeze up and generate pop-up warnings; users who didn’t buy the rogue software were unable to access data and files on their computers. Prosecutors said the scam resulted in $2 million in losses. Peteris Sahurovs, 22, and Marina Maslobojeva, 23, were arrested in Latvia in connection with the scheme, authorities said.

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