Feds seize Swiss bank account of scareware mogul

Federal authorities have seized all the cash in a Swiss bank account held by a scareware mogul and scam artist who is charged with selling phony Symantec security software.

The U.S. Attorney's office in New York filed for the forfeiture of $14.8 million stashed in the account by Shaileshkumar "Sam" Jain, who has fled the U.S. after being charged in the counterfeit antivirus scheme.

BACKGROUND: $100 million 'scareware' CEO was already a fugitive

Jain was charged three years ago, but has been on the run since after failing to show for court appearances, and is believed to have moved to the Ukraine. He is charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, wire fraud and mail fraud.

The charges stem from a scheme that employed spam to lure victims to a website where they used credit cards to buy what was purported to be genuine Symantec antivirus software. In return, they were sent counterfeit software from a facility in Ohio, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He is also charged with selling scareware products as WinFixer, Antivirus 2008 and VirusRemover 2008, all of which are represented as antivirus software but which actually install spyware and malware and otherwise slow down victim computers. Jain ran Innovative Marketing, which prosecutors say sold a million copies of fake antivirus products.

Authorities believe Jain set up corporations in the U.S. and overseas to hide the transactions and that he opened bank accounts and investment accounts in the U.S., Uruguay and Switzerland.

The agency says it hopes to use the seized money to compensate Symantec for sales it lost due to the scam.

Anyone with information about Jain's possible whereabouts is urged to contact ICE's 24-hour tip line -- 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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