A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the makers of Winfixer, also known as ErrorSafe, WinAntiSpyware, WinAntiVirus, SystemDoctor and DriveCleaner. The lawsuit specifically names Marc J. Cohen and James Reno as defendants.
While claiming to fix Windows system problems, the lawsuit alleges, it actually caused the primary plaintiff – Beatrice Ochoa – and at least 100 other unnamed plaintiffs (so far) – unspecified damages as it caused their hard drives to bog down and grind to a halt.
Winfixer and its other incarnations, such as ErrorSafe, SystemDoctor and DriveCleaner, all work in the same way. They somehow end up installed on the victim’s computer, and start throwing up pop-ups that say things like “Your computer may be at risk”, urging you to purchase the Winfixer software. According to Ochoa’s attorney, Winfixer “badgered her with repeated pop-up warnings that her computer had security threats” until she finally relented and purchased Winfixer, only to have it incapacitate her computer.
Symantec and many other anti-spyware and anti-adware systems classify Winfixer as adware at best, spyware or malware at worst. Says Symantec, “WinFixer is a Security Risk that may give exaggerated reports of threats on the computer. The program then prompts the user to purchase a registered version of the software in order to remove the reported threats.”
According to Sandi Hardmeier, a Microsoft MVP, “Advertising networks have had trouble with Winfixer ads suddenly being served up by their networks despite no affiliation with its creators.” At one time Winfixer even began showing up in Microsoft’s MSN Messenger windows!
While at present there are 100 additional plaintiffs signed up for the class action, who here hasn’t seen those “your system could be at risk” pop-ups? It seems that if this lawsuit really moves forward, the class of plaintiffs could potentially reach the thousands.
Says Ochoa’s attorney, Joseph M. Bochner, “All of these people are being defrauded and they’re just ordinary folks. They buy a computer, they surf the Internet, they’re not doing anything unreasonable and suddenly they’re defrauded.”
If you are one of those people, and think that you may have been affected by Winfixer, ErrorSafe, WinAntiSpyware, WinAntiVirus, SystemDoctor or DriveCleaner, you may want to contact Bochner yourself. His contact information is here.