The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer have halted an operation that sent millions of unsolicited commercial e-mail messages in violation of federal and state laws, the FTC announced Friday.
A settlement with Optin Global, Vision Media Limited, Qing Kuang “Rick” Yang and Peonie Pui Ting Chen bars the defendants from future violations of spam laws and requires the operations to monitor affiliates to ensure they are not violating state and federal laws, the FTC said. The defendants are also required to give up about US$475,000 in spam-related profits.
In April 2005, the FTC and the attorney general’s office accused the defendants of using third-party affiliates or “button pushers” to send spam hawking mortgage loans and other products and services. The operation used hyperlinks in the spam to refer consumers to websites operated by the defendants.
Recipients complaining about the spam forwarded more than 1.8 million of the defendants’ e-mail messages to the FTC. The defendants were violating almost every provision of the CAN-SPAM Act, an antispam law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2003, the FTC said.
Among the CAN-SPAM violations: The e-mail messages contained false or forged header information, included deceptive subject headings, failed to identify the e-mail messages as advertisements, failed to notify customers they had a right to opt out of future e-mail, failed to provide an opt-out mechanism and failed to include a valid physical postal address.
The U.S. District Court for Northern District of California, at the request of the FTC and the attorney general’s office, ordered a halt to the spamming operation and froze the defendants’ assets. The settlement announced Friday ends the litigation.
The court order imposes a $2.4 million judgment, which is suspended upon payment of $385,000 in cash and approximately $90,000 from the sale of real property. If the court finds that the defendants misrepresented their financial situations, the entire $2.4 million will be due, the FTC said.
-Grant Gross, IDG News Service
For related news coverage, read Firm Dishes Out $900K to Settle Spam Case and N.Y. Files Suit Against Co. in E-Mail Sale Case.
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