Swede gets 4 years for processing scareware payments

p> A Swedish businessman has been sentenced to four years in prison for knowingly processing payments for a multimillion dollar scareware operation that authorities crippled last year.

Mikael Patrick Sallnert was arrested in January 2012 in Denmark and extradited to the US this March to face fraud charges for his role in one scareware scam that swept from 2008, netting $71 million from an estimated 960,000 victims.

In his plea agreement Sallnert said he had agreed to establish and operate a payments processing facility with the knowledge his clients were operating a scareware ring which defrauded victims.

His company, which the Justice Department described as the “backbone” to scareware rings, processed $5 million in credit card payments for the gang between 2008 and 2009. In addition to the sentence, Sallnert was ordered to pay $650,000 in forfeiture. 

Sallnert was prosecuted as part of Operation Trident Tribunal, which disrupted two scareware groups last year that operated across the US and Europe ahead of his arrest.   

In June 2011, the Justice Department announced the arrest of two Latvian citizens who were accused of buying ad space with an online newspaper in the US and swapping out non-harmful ads that the paper’s staff checked with malicious ads that caused targets computers to freeze and pushed fake antivirus upon victims.

The department did not announce any arrests for the other operation, which netted scareware victims by presenting fake security scans. Latvian authorities did however seize five bank accounts alleged to have been use to funnel profits to the scam’s “leadership”.

Operation Trident Tribunal is an ongoing cybercrime investigation, the department said.

The Federal Trade Commission in October this year won a ruling against the heads of another scareware operation. Kristy Ross, Sam Jain and another Swede, Daniel Sundin, were held liable for $163 million in redress to consumers who had been victims of their scareware campaign.


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