The Tech Herald

Psystar and its Mac clone accused of being Phishing scam

by Stevie Smith - Apr 18 2008, 19:03

Investigative article from ZDNet accuses Psystar OpenMac/Open Computer deal of being Phishing and spyware scam. Credit: Psystar.

Earlier this week, Florida-based computer company Psystar hit the news thanks to its OpenMac system, a low-price Mac-alike desktop that caught the industry’s diligent eye due to it being somewhat controversially equipped with the Apple Mac OS X operating system -- an item of software that no third-party computer manufacturer is licensed by Apple to install.

With rumours of potential legal action subsequently swirling around the Net, along with Psystar promptly changing the name of its Mac-alike from OpenMac to Open Computer to avoid possible trademark infringement, ZDNet’s Richard Koman has delved deeper into the whole affair and uncovered some worrying signs that Psystar and its PC are not what they appear to be.

According to Koman, a variety of dubious details have surfaced that lead to the legitimacy of Psystar being called into question, to the point where the company could potentially be cover for a phishing or credit-card scam.

Specifically, Florida-based Psystar isn’t sure of its exact location in Miami, with the company’s Web site changing its physical address a total of four times in the five days since the widespread press coverage of its OpenMac/Open Computer began.

Psystar has attempted to avert any suspicions by claiming via its Web site that huge demand for the Open Computer has led to the company seeking a new, more suitable location for production. It also notes that a prior address was posted to the site in error and that the current and correct address is 10475 NW 28th Street, Miami.

As a result of this peculiarity, Koman’s investigative nature led him to duly utilise online mapping tools Mapquest and Google Maps to help confirm Psystar’s claimed address, the results being that Mapquest said the address was authentic, while Google Maps said that it wasn’t.

Considering that Apple Inc. is the opposing party in this matter, and likely to come down hard on any violation of its software licensing agreement, it is rather unusual to note such an absence of vocal legal representation on Psystar’s part. The lack of representation in what could well be a messy legal battle, has left the company’s principal officer Rodolfo Pedraza openly talking to the media about OpenMac/Open Computer.

Beyond this, consumer alarm bells should perhaps be ringing with Koman outlining that Psystar is not processing customer credit-card orders for its Mac OS X computer. Instead, the company has posted an online apology explaining that “the store is temporarily down” and customers wishing to place an order should send an e-mail to a support mailing address “so that we can update you when the store comes back online.”

Psystar has since conceded that it does not currently have the mean to process credit-card orders as their previous merchant Powerpay “dropped the ball on us and refused to process any more transactions from our company.” Psystar claims it has now been forced to revert to PayPal for transactions as Powerpay was not in a position to handle demand for the OpenMac/Open Computer.

By way of response to that claim, Powerpay told News.com that it closed the Psystar account when it learned of exactly what the company was attempting to sell, which violated the terms of its processing agreement with Powerpay.

While the Florida Attorney General has no registered complaints about Psystar or its principal, ZDNet’s Koman subtly offers that Rodolfo Pedraza is peddling little more than a scam for collecting phishing and spyware-friendly credit-card and e-mail info by adding that Mr. Pedraza is also responsible for a company called FloridaTek.com.

Anyone prepared to visit FloridaTek.com will invariably by invited to save a .exe file to their unwitting computers before very long -- and would probably be considered extremely unwise to do so.

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