For the common good, I'll overcome my embarrassment and admit I fell for an online job scam. Achieve Technologies "helps" you set up monetized websites. They have proprietary website building software, including Aveya and Superaveya, for a fee.
Achieve's online "training" acknowledges "Aveya could be considered a virus", but is very effective for targeting ads to anyone who visits your site. The best way I can describe it is as a "computer crawler". I know it collected info from e-mail folders and My Documents because of the rather obscure subjects I started getting spam about.
If your computer, like mine, is XP with limited (1GB) memory, you will notice a sudden slowdown in everything you do as these programs do their work.
I suspect this is a common technology used universally. It installs without asking permission and is not detected by any of the following: Spybot S&D, AdAware, MalWareBytes, MSE, AVG, Panda or TrendMicro. It is not removed by CCleaner or FlashCookiesCleaner. I actually found it by searching my registry:
I sent all the registry info I removed to MalWareBytes, but they don't target "legitimate" spyware, they said.
I'm hoping some of the great minds in the CNet community will want to develop some armor for us against this kind of intrusive attack (that's how it feels when you realize every byte on your computer has been looked at!).