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Court Orders Spammers to Give Up $3.7 Million

Republishing of article:


Case Against International Spam Operation is First Using US SAFE WEB Act

Press Release
Federal Trade Commission
July 2, 2009

URL: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/07/spear.shtm

A U.S. district court has ordered key players in an international spam ring to give up $3.7 million that they made by sending out illegal e-mail messages pitching bogus hoodia weight-loss products and a “human growth hormone” pill they claimed reversed the aging process.

In a Federal Trade Commission law enforcement action, the court found that the five defendants, located in Canada and St. Kitts, violated the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act by participating in the spam operation. The court order bars the defendants from violating the CAN-SPAM Act and from making false or unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of any food, drug, or dietary supplement.

The FTC charged that the operation used spammers to drive traffic to Web sites selling an extract of the hoodia gordonii plant it claimed would cause significant weight loss, and a “natural human growth hormone enhancer” it claimed would reverse the aging process. The FTC alleged that these claims were false or unsubstantiated, and charged the defendants with deceptive advertising in violation of federal law. It also alleged that the spammers sent e-mail that contained false “from” addresses and deceptive subject lines, and that they failed to provide a required opt-out link or physical postal address.

The case, filed by the FTC in October 2007, marked the first time the Commission invoked the US SAFE WEB Act, a federal law designed to protect consumers from cross-border fraud and deception. The Act enhances the agency’s ability to exchange information with foreign counterparts and helps protect consumers from cross-border spam and spyware distribution, as well as Internet fraud and deception. The FTC’s complaint charged eight defendants – Spear Systems, Inc., three other corporate defendants, and four individuals.

The Commission settled with three defendants in the case – Spear Systems, Inc. (a U.S. company) and two individuals, one in the United States and one in Australia – in May 2008. The agency was unable to reach settlements with the remaining five defendants, who are the subject of the court order announced today: Xavier Ratelle and Abaragidan Gnanendran, of Quebec, Canada; and corporate defendants 9151-1154 Quebec, Inc., 9064-9252 Quebec, Inc., and HBE, Inc. The final orders were entered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 10:00 PM
Categories: CAN-SPAM, FTC, lawsuit, spam

Canada Bill has Key Differences from CAN-SPAM

Here is an interesting article from Ken Magill about a new bill in Canada and how if it passes into law the differences that US-based senders will need to consider:

http://directmag.com/email/news/0428-canada-anti-spam-bill/

Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 1:35 PM
Categories: CAN-SPAM, Canada, Email marketing, regulation, spam

FTC comes out with updates to CAN-SPAM

This is the message sent out to our StrongView customers. As we get more information and understanding I will update this blog

StrongView Customers,

WHAT'S HAPPENING
Today, the FTC announced four new rule provisions under the CAN-SPAM Act. These new provisions bring some much needed clarification to several key definitions.

In summary, the new rule provisions address four topics:

Prohibition of an Opt-out Fee – This provision prohibits the imposition of any fee, any requirement to provide personally identifying information (beyond one’s email address), or any other obligation as a condition for accepting or honoring a recipient’s opt-out request.

Definition of "Sender" – CAN-SPAM now defines "sender" as the entity identified in the "from" line. The definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single email message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements.

Definition of “Valid Physical Postal Address” - A “sender” of commercial email can now include an accurately registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial email display a “valid physical postal address."

Definition of "Person" – Up until now, CAN-SPAM had no definition for "person," which created some confusion in regards to whom the act applied. With this new provision, "person" has been defined as an individual, group, unincorporated association, limited or general partnership, corporation, or other business entity. Note that non-profits are not exempt from CAN-SPAM.

HOW THIS MAY IMPACT YOU
These new rule provisions will not likely affect your day-to-day email operations, as these updates are more applicable to companies not currently following the email best practices that StrongView promotes to all of its customers. In fact, the best practices we recommend go far above and beyond current CAN-SPAM provisions.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
If you think you might not be in compliance, you can review the FTC press release or the official May 12 Federal Register Notice for more information on the updated provisions.

Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 8:22 PM
Categories: FTC, delivery, spam, CAN-SPAM