An Indian-origin man, along with two others, has been indicted here on charges that they duped internet users in more than 60 countries into buying fake software products of more than 100 million dollars.
According to the 26 count indictment returned by a federal grand jury, Shaileshkumar P Jain, Bjorn Daniel Sundin and James Reno deceived internet users into falsely believing that their computers were infected with "malware" or had other critical errors to induce them to purchase "scareware" software products that had limited or no ability to remedy the purported, but nonexistent, defects.
The trio placed fake advertisements about their products on various legitimate companies' websites in a scheme "regarded as one of the fastest- growing and most prevalent types of internet fraud".
The international cybercrime scheme caused internet users in more than 60 countries to purchase more than one million bogus software products, causing victims to lose more than $100 million, the federal indictment said.
Sundin and Jain owned and operated Innovative Marketing Inc (IM), a company registered in Belize that purported to sell anti-virus and computer performance/repair software through the internet and that operated a subsidiary called Innovative Marketing Ukraine, located in Kiev.
The company had closed down last year after the US Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit in Maryland seeking to end the allegedly fraudulent practices.
Jain, 40, who was IM's chief executive officer, is a US citizen and is believed to be living in Ukraine.
Sundin, 31, IM's chief technology officer and chief operating officer is a Swedish citizen believed to be in Sweden.
Reno 26, of Ohio owned and operated the former Byte Hosting Internet Services, which operated call centers that provided technical and billing support to victim consumers on behalf of IM.
Reno is expected to present himself for arraignment at a later date in US District Court in Chicago.
Sundin and Jain were each charged with 24 counts of wire fraud, and Reno with 12 counts of wire fraud, and all three were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit computer fraud in the 26-count indictment.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $100 million and any funds held in a bank account in Kiev.