The RDV Group InfoSec Blog

Friday, May 30, 2008

Can you get reimbursed when you purchase spyware?

I thought it would be useful to see this back and forth I recently had with a reader. His question was:

"In your opinion, does being victimized by such intruders as "Antispywaremaster" constitute fraud if in fact you authorize a debit of your account? I am in the process of disputing my purchase of their spoof antispyware program which infected my computer & would like your opinion on what the likelihood is of recovering my losses. Thanks."

This was my response:

"Let me preface my answer by stating that I am not a lawyer, and my opinion carries no weight in a court of law. But I believe that your credit card company should reverse the charge, as most cards have a provision to contest services or products that do not perform as promised, and this is as clear a case of non-performance as you can find.
As far as continuing a charge of fraud, in an effort to recoup damages over and above the initial charge for the software, I'm not sure how good your chances would be. A large portion of these malware writers are overseas, and law enforcement types are reluctant to go after groups unless they have rung up large losses.
BTW: Two good anti-spyware programs I use are: Spybot S&D and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware both are free. I have great dislike for programs that pretend to be spyware, then infect your computer."

His response was:

"Your reply will not be used to bolster a law suit as I do not intend to pursue one but rather aid me in my resolve to recover MC charges & fees to my account."

This is good news, as the credit card company should reimburse for the faulty software, but it would be nearly impossible to collect damages from a virus maker. And be sure to always check AV sites, like Symantec or McAfee, or other info sites, before you download software.

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