Spyware pusher shut down and fined $4 million

Spyware pusher shut down and fined $4 million

Summary: Sanford Wallace (nicknamed Spamford for his history of spamming) and his company Smartbot.net have been ordered to shut down operations and give up $4,089,500 of their ill-gotten gains.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Just released by the FTC -- Sanford Wallace (nicknamed Spamford for his history of spamming) and his company Smartbot.net have been ordered to shut down operations and give up $4,089,500 of their ill-gotten gains. Wallace's partner, Walt Rines, (nicknamed Picklejar by some), was ordered to give up $227,000 in ill-gotten gains as well. Rines distributed ads containing Spamford's spyware. Correction -- it was ad-broker Jared Lansky that has to pay the $227,000, not Rines. See below for notes  

The FTC alleged that Sanford Wallace and his company, Smartbot.Net, exploited a security vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s Web browser in order to distribute spyware. The spyware caused the CD-ROM tray on computers to open and then issued a “FINAL WARNING!!” to computer screens with a message that said, “If your cd-rom drive’s open . . .You DESPERATELY NEED to rid your system of spyware pop-ups IMMEDIATELY! Spyware programmers can control your computer hardware if you failed to protect your computer right at this moment! Download Spy Wiper NOW!” Spy Wiper and Spy Deleter, purported anti-spyware products the defendants promoted, sold for $30.

Ah, yes, I remember it well. My SpywareWarrior forum was overrun with victims of Wallace's and Rines' scam.  I devoted a special blog category to it as well. More details on this later.

Correction:  In my joy over Spamford's fate, I misread the FTC announcement about Walt "picklejar" Rines. His case has not been resolved yet. The FTC sued Rines last October and the complaint was amended on May 4.  The FTC documents on Rines' case are here.

I posted some additional information at my SpywareWarrior blog including a mention of the other perp in the SpyWiper SpyDeleter action, Rob Martinson.

Topic: Tech Industry

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34 comments
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  • Wait a minute.

    What about the whole Socketshield controversy? Are you trying to pull a Rumsfeld on us?
    Webgrrrl
    • Huh?

      That's a different topic and I haven't forgotten about it. There's only so many hours in a day for blogging and everything else. ;)
      Suzi_z
  • Not enough time?

    HMMMMM

    You had the time to start a new topic when someone pointed out that you made misleading statements in your Socketshield commercial though.
    Webgrrrl
    • yes

      Yes, I made time to post about a story that's important to me because I was very involved in helping the CDT bring their complaint against Seismic Entertainment, which later led to the FTC complaint.

      I addressed toadlife's points the the talkbacks on that post -- maybe you didn't read my replies...

      I have nothing to gain from my SocketShield "commercial", but grief from people like you, it seems ;) The reason I'm enthusisatic about it is because I think it's a good tool. It's not meant to replace an anti-virus or any other anti-malware software.

      As far as time goes, I have 2 other jobs besides blogging, one full time and one part time, so I have to pick my battles and what to blog about, and as I said, I did respond to toadlife in the talkbacks.
      Suzi_z
      • Grief from people like me?

        You know what grieves me? What grieves me is the glib deception handed out by "politically gifted" self serving "public servants".

        I did read your replies Suzi, for all that they are worth, and I think you have a real gift for seeming to answer a question when really you have not.

        The truth is that you changed the subject, to avoid having to admit that your claims about SocketSheild, are both inaccurate and misleading.
        Claiming that you "pick your battles" does not change that dear. :wink:

        Your rapid responses here tonight also make it very clear, that contrary to your claim above, you have lots of time to spare.

        Once again Donald Rumsfeld comes to mind.
        Webgrrrl
        • Positively "rumsfeldian".

          [b]Adjective: disingenuous[/b] `disin'jenyoous

          1. Not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness

          [i]"an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who...exemplified...the most disagreeable traits of his time"; "a disingenuous excuse"[/i]



          .
          Webgrrrl
        • Oh, Go Spawn Off Already

          It's bloody easy to stand back and tear someone down because you don't approve of how they're handling a particular issue. What say you add some feet to that rhetoric and see if you can do better.
          gwrigg
          • Really?

            "It's bloody easy to stand back and tear someone down because you don't approve of how they're handling a particular issue."

            Which is precisely what you are doing right now. Why is it only OK for you, or Suzi, to express disapproval?
            Webgrrrl
        • well..

          It's fascinating that you seem to think you know my motives and can read my mind, as well as how how much "time I have to spare".

          Resorting to personal attacks does nothing to add to the discussion.

          Regarding my claims about SocketShield, why don't you try it yourself and tell us your findings? What do you really know about it?
          Suzi_z
          • Mind reading? Personal attack?

            Seeing the obvious is not "mind reading", and calling you on it is not a "personal attack".
            Webgrrrl
          • so..

            What's your complaint, really? That I started a new topic, or that I posted "misleading and inaccurate information" about SocketShield, or that I didn't answer toadlife's questions the way you think I should have?

            If you think I posted "misleading and inaccurate" information, then please do your own test and tell me exactly what I said that was "inaccurate and misleading". And please do tell me how you know so much about SocketShield if you haven't bothered to test it yourself.
            Suzi_z
          • To the readers.

            I suggest that you read the previous topic and user comments about it, and then reread the user comments on this "new" topic and draw your own conclusions.

            DISCLAIMER: User comments which are not in agreement with Suzi and/or do not include praise for her may be construed as "mind reading" and ad hominem attacks and are subject to deletion.


            .
            Webgrrrl
          • So I read the previous blog...

            This is what I've come up with...

            If you're using IE, this is a great program that could prevent malware toolbars using public exploits (most noteably ActiveX if this is where the vendor is actually blocking things) from being installed on your computer. (This is mere opinion than fact since I have never used this app, nor do I use IE).

            From the "marketing" hype it truely sounds like an anti-virus application. Since all forms of Spyware, Malware and Virii can be classified under them.

            As a programmer and a viewpoint based on the description of the application. I know exactly what Suzy is referring to, and completely agree.

            Hit the opened exploit before it's being accessed. Makes sense and is most deffinitly a "pro-active" approach over traditional virus scanner methods where infections or files have to be "downloaded" or "about to be downloaded (using recognizable names, or signatures)."

            Where as this just sounds like it plugs the whole entirely without the bloat of Norton's or McAffee. Sounds like a new and interesting concept.

            Use until "patches" come.

            As for agreeing with the poster. I see the differences but I can see many "end-users" not understanding the subtle differences since they would be hard to determine. They sound very similar. I look at it this way:

            Anti-virus scans for signatures

            Spyware scans for "KNOWN" filenames, types and signatures (ie reg entries etc)

            This blocks the whole entirely, although it sound pretty useless once the computer is infected. But I guess this is where product 1 and 2 come into play. First line of defence kind of thing.
            ju1ce
          • Forgot to add.. I wouldn't pay 30 bucks for it either. (NT)

            (NT)
            ju1ce
        • Get a life Webgrrl

          You are off the topic of the day. This happens way too much on these forums. If you can't address the current topic then don't respond at all.
          Dolphin39
    • POSTS

      Any posts that are not on topic should be deleted by moderator.

      I am not here to waste my time with off topic posts that are desigend to build other people's egos.
      Dolphin39
  • Sweet... Another victory against spamming...

    Down with spamming!
    ju1ce
  • to webgirrrl -- aka channi

    Interesting how you used another name at first to hide your identity. I'm not going to reply to any more of your posts since I've wasted far too much time replying to you already here and on SpywareWarrior.

    I'm sure the readers here are bright enough to read and form their own opinions about me and what I posted with or without invervention from you.
    Suzi_z
    • Suzi.. I'm going to guess...

      The poster in question is a "spyware" distributor of sorts if you've had this many problems with them. :)

      Although I would say I have no idea at all. Just seems like for someone to get so "colourful" over the prospect of discussion on a type of "anti-threat" applications (especially on a controversial subject like spyware, malware) would lead me to believe it's someone who goes against anti-spyware things. I could be wrong though...

      Who knows how many 180 Solutions employee's regulariy browse your logs, etc...
      ju1ce
      • One would think so, but no.

        [i]"The poster in question is a "spyware" distributor of sorts if you've had this many problems with them."[/i]

        Suzi's "response" to my comments would then seem proportional. Yet alas that is not the case. [b]I am 100% anti adware/spyware[/b]. The problem Suzi has with me is that I am also 100% anti BS, and I took C-NET's download.com to task for listing ROGUE antispyware apps on her Spyware Warrior Forum.

        Read about it there in the thread titled, '[b]Is this really you Suzi?[/b]'.
        Webgrrrl