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Wash. State Settles Spyware Lawsuit

An Oregon man will pay nearly $84,000 in fines and consumer restitution for using e-mail to market bogus anti-spyware software called Spyware Cleaner, Washington state officials said in announcing a settlement.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna said the penalties are the first under an anti-spyware law the Legislature passed last year.

"We will not tolerate those who try to profit by preying on consumers' fears of spyware and other malware," McKenna said Tuesday in a statement.

The settlement with Zhijian Chen of Portland, Ore., follows a five-month investigation by the attorney general's consumer protection high-tech unit.

Officials say Chen made thousands of dollars in commissions by sending e-mail meant to mislead people into believing their computers were infected by a virus and that Spyware Cleaner sold by Secure Computer was the fix.

The lawsuit filed in January in U.S. District Court names Secure Computer LLC of White Plains, N.Y., along with company executives and other associates.

Chen will pay $16,000 in restitution to consumers who bought Spyware Cleaner as a result of receiving his message, the attorney general's office said. He will also pay $24,000 in civil penalties and nearly $44,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

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