A federal judge has granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a default judgment against a software developer who helped scammers infect millions of computers with destructive and intrusive spyware. The judgment bars the defendant from distributing software that interferes with consumers’ computers and requires that he give up his ill-gotten gains.
In November 2006, the FTC charged ERG Ventures, LLC, its principals, and their affiliate, Timothy P. Taylor, with tricking consumers into downloading malicious software by hiding it within seemingly innocuous free programs, including screensavers and video files. Once downloaded, the malware silently activated itself and installed programs that changed consumers’ home pages, tracked their Internet activity, altered browser settings, degraded computer performance, and disabled anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Many of the malware programs installed by the defendants were extremely difficult or impossible for consumers to remove from their computers.
A stipulated final order announced in October 2007 ended the litigation with ERG Ventures, LLC and its principals. The default judgment announced today ends the litigation with the final defendant, Timothy P. Taylor.
The judgment entered against Taylor bars him from distributing software that interferes with consumers’ computers, including software that tracks consumers’ Internet activity or collects other personal information; generates disruptive pop-up advertising; tampers with or disables other installed programs; or installs other advertising software onto consumers’ computers. The judgment also requires Taylor to fully disclose the name and function of all software he installs on consumers’ computers in the future, and to provide consumers with the option to cancel the installation after viewing the disclosure. Taylor has also been ordered to give up all of the income he made from the scheme, which amounts to $4,595.36.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.