Expensive software at a ridiculously cheap price: What's the catch?
July 3, 2004 9:43 AM   Subscribe

What happens when you try to purchase expensive software for a site that claims to be offering it for a ridiculously cheap price?

Like for example Photoshop, $649 retail for the full version, found in spam for $49 at any number of purported Web merchants. What happens when you let your credit card number slip? Do they send you a blank disc containing child snuff pr0n and tip off the Feds? Does your stolen identity go on a mad, whimsical Internet shopping spree? Does your cash just disappear into the void? Do they send you the software in Tagalog? Does the software come on a CD-R in a cheaply duplicated facsimile of the original packaging bundled with a virus that reroutes all your future Web transactions through the scam shop, adding a not-so-hefty-as-to-be-immediably-noticeable tax to your purchases? Do aliens come?
posted by grrarrgh00 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
That's from a site in the FPP, btw.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:45 AM on July 3, 2004


I doubt you get anything more legitimate than what might be found on the p2p networks.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2004


Here's a good article about the rise in pirated software sales from The Reg.
posted by Danelope at 10:15 AM on July 3, 2004


If you are going to do that, you might as well jump on to the peer-to-peer networks or usenet and just steal photoshop outright.

It's a safe bet most of this software is pirated (although it could very well be the asian style well produced pirated software, with almost-real looking packaging and the works).

So, yeah, the software companies would probably even prefer being stolen from rather than stolen from and have money change hands to pirates. Even worse, if you buy from spam, you encourage spammers, and for that I'm going to have to come to your house and beat you. Repeatedly.

As far as what happens to your credit card number? Who knows? Depends if the company is only looking to rip off software companies, or if they have a side business in stolen credit cards.

The only semi-legal way to get software cheaper is volume discounts or to pick up OEM versions from a place like newegg with some hardware. Not sure if Adobe even does that, though.
posted by malphigian at 10:16 AM on July 3, 2004


If you're a coder or tester in the Seattle area you will eventually have the opportunity to score some free Microsoft software by some legal means (taking a training course, doing user testing for them, giveaways, whatever). These boxes are all labeled "NOT FOR RESALE". A lot of this software ends up in the hands of grey-market dealers and on EBay.
posted by falconred at 10:24 AM on July 3, 2004


Actually, say what you like about p2p, but one good thing has come of it: actual organised-crime pirates have great trouble competing against free p2p piracy (hence the increased amount of spamming they've been getting into recently). You'd think someone would be thankful for this piracy decline, but no-one seems to notice -- they're more likely to just lump all the piracy numbers together and claim that piracy has increased overall.
posted by reklaw at 12:38 PM on July 3, 2004


I have a related question. One downloads a piece of software from Kazaa (*.exe or *.zip), and scans it with an updated copy of Norton. What are the chances that, if the scan finds it clean, it will be virus free?
posted by goethean at 7:55 PM on July 3, 2004


Chances are good that it's virus-free, goethean. But, of course, every virus begins somewhere, and they all have a head start on the anti-virus programs at first.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:12 PM on July 3, 2004


goethean, there's always the risk that someone wrote a simple program that deletes all your files for the hell of it. More a trojan than a virus, and much harder to detect, since it's so much simpler.
posted by smackfu at 10:03 PM on July 3, 2004


goethean, there's always the risk that someone wrote a simple program that deletes all your files for the hell of it. More a trojan than a virus, and much harder to detect, since it's so much simpler.

Or has written their own simple proxy or trojan (or heavily modified an existing one). It's more common than you think, and virus scanners aren't going to find something that obscure.
posted by angry modem at 11:53 PM on July 3, 2004


For that matter, there's more of a chance it's an old copy of Counterstrike that someone had lying around which they renamed to appear useful. You're far more likely to get plain old fakes from most networks (at least those that don't have fake checking services) than any actual malicious code.

Although I've found there are a lot of spyware/adware/sleazeware droppers masquerading as cracks and keygens.

To the point of the original question: If you "buy" software advertised in spam, you're most likely to get nothing at all, except a bunch of fraudulent credit card charges. Likely a good number of those will be from rinkydink ISPs offering dialup services to pop-up spammers.
posted by majick at 9:06 AM on July 4, 2004


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