Scam watch: Computer virus warning, Ponzi scheme, fake BBB email
Computer virus warning -- The Federal Trade Commission has started mailing refunds to 300,000 consumers who were victims of a scam in which they were tricked into buying unnecessary software to remove nonexistent viruses and spyware from their computers. The perpetrators of the scheme caused ads to appear on victims’ computers, informing them that a “system scan” had detected viruses and other threats that needed to be removed immediately. In December 2008 the FTC obtained a court order putting a halt to the scheme. The FTC alleged that the defendants conned more than 1 million consumers into buying software products such as Winfixer, Drive Cleaner and Antivirus XP to remove the malware the bogus scans had supposedly detected. Consumers who believe they are entitled to a refund or have questions may call the settlement administrator toll free at 1-877-853-3541 or visit www.FTC.gov/refunds for more information.
Ponzi scheme -- A San Diego investment manager was arrested on charges that he ran a $25-million investment fraud, in which he falsely claimed that he made huge profits trading stocks. Federal prosecutors alleged that Robert L. Holloway lost millions trading stocks, diverted more than $1 million of investors’ money to himself and used new investor money to pay returns to early investors. The scheme operated from 2005 to 2007, prosecutors said. Holloway, 54, is charged with four counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.
BBB emails -- The Better Business Bureau is cautioning businesses and consumers about an email that falsely claims to be from the BBB and could infect computers with damaging viruses. The email subject line reads, “Complaint from your customers,” and contains a link to a site not affiliated with the consumer protection group. Consumers should not click on the link because it could cause their computers to be infected with a damaging virus. Anyone who has already clicked on the link should have their computers scanned for spyware, viruses or other potential problems, the BBB said. The group is working with law enforcement to determine the source of the emails.
-- Stuart Pfeifer
Photo: A laptop computer. Credit: John Adkisson / Reuters