Internet scammer may be hiding out in Nevis after US$163M federal judgment

IDAHO, USA, Wednesday December 12, 2012 – Kristy Marie Ross, who owes the United States government $163 million as part of a federal civil judgment stemming from an Internet scam, is believed to be hiding out in the Caribbean.

The former Idaho resident was part of an Internet scheme in which people were frightened into buying virus-protection software they didn’t need, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“They scared millions of people,” said Paul Spelman, a Washington, DC-based attorney with the FTC.

The scheme, known as Innovative Marketing, pushed advertisements claiming that internet users had hundreds of viruses or illegal files that needed cleansing and offered software for $39.95 or more. But installing the product didn’t help; it gave the user more scareware ads, according to the FTC.

Others players involved in the Innovative Marketing scam have paid some $16 million in settlements. But Ross lit out and remains on the run, with undisclosed sources suggesting a hideout in Nevis.

Ross’ former boyfriend, Sam Jain, is also an international fugitive wanted by the FBI’s cybercrimes unit.

Carolyn Gurland, a Chicago lawyer who represents Ross, has appealed the federal court verdict, claiming federal officials are targeting her client unfairly.

Gurland, who represented disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, said Ross is “one of the most amazing people I’ve ever been privileged enough to meet,” and insists that her client is not the high-tech con artist whom the FTC alleges bilked thousands of Internet users for millions of dollars.

According to Gurland, Ross was a young woman who worked hard to follow her boyfriend’s orders and ended up becoming a victim herself. The attorney added that problems developed when the company hired Ukrainian assistants who resorted to scare tactics that ultimately drew the scrutiny of the FTC.

“She was a baby — she had no idea what the hell these boys were doing,” Gurland said.

But in the September verdict, US District Judge Richard Bennett in Maryland wrote that Ross had much more control over the company than Gurland portrayed.

In a 29-page ruling, Bennett concluded “her expertise in marketing was touted by her partners and used to deceive and defraud a large number of consumers.” Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)