The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against alleged spyware maker Odysseus Marketing and its owner Walter Rines.
The company is accused of luring consumers into downloading its software by promising a peer-to-peer file sharing application that would provide anonymous and free access to music downloads.
The charges allege that the promised software failed to deliver anonymous file sharing, and was anything but free because it came bundled with a spyware application called Clientman.
Several companies offering spyware removal tools, including Symantec and Computer Associates, label Clientman as spyware.
The spyware is designed to download and install additional applications, and redirects users trying to search on Google or Yahoo to a website pushing results for Rines's websites, according to the FTC. It also served pop-ups and gathered information about the user's system.
The FTC lawsuit stated that Rines should have clearly disclosed the spying payload of his application, but instead hid that information in a two-page licensing agreement.
The defendant is also accused of making it difficult to detect and remove the software. An uninstall tool provided by Rines actually installed additional software.
The website for Odysseus Marketing is currently offline, but still offers the Clientman removal tool.
Rines has a history of sending spam and used to work with 'spam king' Sanford Wallace, who pioneered many spam technologies including the use of spoofed sender addresses, relaying and mutlihoming.
Wallace quit the spam business in 1998 and was last seen running a night club in New Hampshire.