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EarthLink targets 100 spammers

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August 28, 2003

US ISP EarthLink is on the hunt for around 100 spammers it claims are guilty of sending more than 250 million junk emails. Filing a federal lawsuit yesterday, EarthLink alleged that the spammers used criminal means - including credit card fraud and identity theft - to finance their operation.

Those targeted by EarthLink are roughly split between Alabama and Vancouver although at the moment, the ISP is unaware of individual identities. Part of the reason for the legal action is to try and seek identification of those behind the spam rings. Associated Press quotes Karen Cashion, lead council for EarthLink's lawsuit, as saying: "Our investigation has been ongoing for a number of months and this is a very tech-savvy spam ring which has made this a particularly challenging investigation."

EarthLink alleges that the spammers were behind millions of emails for stuff like herbal remedies and financial products. It also alleges that the spammers were trying to obtain fraudulently credit card and banking details by posing as bona fide companies. For EarthLink, this is just the latest round of action against spammers. In May, it was awarded $16.4 million damages and permanent relief against a notorious spammer - Howard Carmack, aka The Buffalo Spammer - after he was fingered for sending more than 825 million illegal emails.

It was also alleged that Carmack and his accomplices "used stolen credit cards, identity theft, banking fraud and other illegal activities to fraudulently purchase Internet accounts and send out unsolicited, commercial emails". Other companies are also stepping up their fight against spam. Last December, for example, AOL won $7 million in damages after it claimed its punters had been bombarded with porn spam. The giant Internet company used the court ruling to warn spammers that it would use the full force of the law to hit at anyone who targets its punters with unsolicited email.

And earlier this week Amazon announced it was demanding millions of dollars in punitive damages from 11 'spoofers' accused of sending forged Amazon emails. The lawsuits, which target operators based in the US and Canada, are part of a wider crackdown by the online retailer against email forgeries, a trick known as 'spoofing'.

Source: The Register


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