Massachusetts continues crackdown on spammers

In a continuing crackdown on senders of spam, the Attorney General of Massachusetts has sued seven individuals and two companies who allegedly formed a spam ring.

The group is allegedly responsible for sending hundreds of millions of unwanted, deceptive e-mail messages each month in violation of both U.S. federal and Massachusetts state law, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said during a news conference in Boston on Wednesday.

In the legal action, the nine defendants are charged with sending illegal spam, as well as advertising and promoting illegitimate software, prescription drugs and mortgages. The primary target in the lawsuit is Leo Kuvayev, the alleged organizer of the ring, Reilly said.

“He is a resident of Massachusetts and leader of one of the largest Internet spam rings in this country, if not the world,” Reilly said. “Our goal is first to shut this ring down and put them out of business.” The group claims to have made millions of dollars, he said.

The ring allegedly operated from suburbs in Boston and Russia and used domain names registered in Monaco, Australia and France and servers in China, Korea, Brazil and Taiwan, according to a statement distributed by Microsoft Corp., which assisted in the investigation into the alleged spam ring.

A team at Microsoft gathered and provided evidence of the spam by capturing the e-mail messages in special Hotmail e-mail accounts, said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, also at the news conference. During a three-week period last year, the trap accounts received at least 45,000 messages suspected to have originated from the Internet spam group, Smith said.

This is not the first time that the Massachusetts Attorney General has taken action against senders of spam. Last year, Reilly was the first to file an action under CAN-SPAM, the federal law protecting against spam. That case, against a Florida man and his company, was settled for US$25,000.

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