In December 2007, the Dutch regulator for postal and electronic communications services (Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit – OPTA) imposed a record one million euros fine on three Dutch firms and their two directors for illegal practices.
The directors of the Dutch firms distributed software called “DollarRevenue” to millions of internet users, resulting in the installation of about 450 million software files on 22 million computers both in the Netherlands and throughout the rest of the world. The adware surreptitiously downloaded spyware and adware on the recipient computers without the users’ knowledge, allowing the companies to spy on the on-line behaviour of consumers and trigger focused pop-up advertisement material.
In addition, some of the downloaded ad-supported products were very difficult to remove and the software was directly linked to a hacking scandal whereby over 7,700 computers were attacked in a period of 24 hours.
The directors denied any wrongdoing, though OPTA believed that the companies had actually contacted hackers and cybercriminals when going about its business. Interestingly, its biggest partner became InfraDollars.biz, a Russian gang which at one point went so far as to offer $0.06 for each computer that was infected with the spyware and adware.