The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, July 14, 2003  

Cashing In on a Free -- Literally -- Market

Heads up! Here’s a PC software scam of which I hope readers will steer clear.

A few weeks ago irritating pop-ups arrived on my PC screen while I was connected to the web. Several promoted the typical internet crap -- seedy web cams, diet pills,, and the like (Just kidding about Sullivan.) -- but most were advertising a software package that would, you guessed it, block pop-ups of the same type that were being transmitted.

I presume this hassle resulted from my opening a piece of spam I shouldn’t have. Regardless, annoyed as hell, I tried various remedies for killing off these little pests, but nothing worked. I even wrote complaint letters to the advertisers. No progress, needless to say.

Then I did a little research at the sites promoting this “fix it” software package, a package one is invited to buy at the oh-so-reasonable cost of $29.95. It turns out the pop-ups were arriving through Windows Messenger.

I had never heard of Windows Messenger, but turning to the ever reliable Google, I learned it’s a program embedded within the operating system that can be disabled in under a minute.

So these jokers -- Bust Pop-Ups, Defeat Messenger, and Message Away -- are charging $29.95 for a “software package” that can “remedy” “a problem” that they themselves created and that a PC user can easily fix himself.

If I could do it, disable Messenger I mean, anyone can.

What a scam. And it’s completely legal, as far as I can tell.

I wish I had thought of it.

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