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Pop-up ad queen caught by the U.S. government, fined $163 million

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You won't believe how many people wound up getting caught up in her scams

You've probably never heard the name Kristy Ross before, but we're willing to bet you're very familiar with her work. You may have even given her money. For the last five years (at least), Ross has been flooding the internet with pop-up ad after pop-up ad, all claiming that your computer — yes, yours specifically — is infected with viruses. That's illegal, and it turns out the law has finally caught up to her: The Federal Trade Commission has just fined Ross a staggering $163 million dollars for her crimes.

The infamous fake computer scan ads encourage you to download "free" anti-virus software under the names Winfixer, DriveCleaner, FreeRepair, WinAntivirus, WinAntispyware, or System Doctor. Once you're hooked by the fraudulent warning, the advertisements redirect you to a page trying to sell you anti-virus software for $40 to $60 a pop. According to the government, "more than a million" were victims of Ross's scam. And given the size of the judgement — almost surely proportional to the amount of money Ross raked in from the folks she defrauded — we're willing to bet that 1 million is a low estimate.

The terms of the judgement prohibit Ross, whom we're officially nominating as today's "worst person in the world," from selling computer security software in the future. Though it's admittedly questionable whether what she was selling technically qualified any in the first place. Which is sad, because you can get really good anti-virus protection for your computer for free.

[Image credit: Roger symbol on screen via Shutterstock]

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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