Amazon Ratchets Up Fight Against Spammers

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-08-26 Print this article Print

Company files federal lawsuits against 11 online marketers it says are fraudulently sending e-mails that appear to come from the online retailer. has ratcheted up its fight against spammers this week, filing federal lawsuits on Monday and Tuesday against 11 online marketers it says are fraudulently sending e-mails that appear to come from the online retailer., of Seattle, is seeking both to restrain the marketers from sending further forged e-mails and to deter copycats by seeking millions of dollars in punitive damages. The practice of concealing the true sender of an e-mail by making it appear to come from a different sender is called e-mail "spoofing." "Spoofing is forgery, and were going after spoofers to the full extent of the law," said David Zapolsky, vice president and associate general counsel, in a statement.
The lawsuits were filed in six U.S. district courts in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Washington and Wisconsin as well as in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada. The complete lawsuits are available at is still determining the total amount of punitive damages to seek as the full extent of the fraudulent activities become known, spokesman Bill Curry said. "We only know the tip of the iceberg," he said. said the legal action is part of a larger effort to combat spoofing. The company is encouraging customers to report suspected spoofing by sending e-mail to a special account, The company also announced that it has begun working with Internet service providers and owners of other trusted domain names to promote technical solutions to prevent spoofing and that it supports federal legislation that would impose tough penalties on spoofing. In one of the 11 cases, against appliance retailer, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has reached a settlement in principle. accused (also known as E.B.A. Wholesale Corp.) of promoting its home appliances through e-mails appearing to come from The agreement would prohibit from sending any e-mails that include the name without authorization from the online retailer and includes unspecified monetary damages. The New York Attorney Generals office also reached a $10,000 settlement of civil fraud charges with The attorney generals office and had cooperated in an investigation. The settlement also prohibits from using the names of third parties in its marketing unless it receives authority to do so and requires the company to keep records of all commercial e-mails over the next two years. Named defendants in the other 10 lawsuits include Rockin Time Holdings Inc., of Miami Beach, Fla.; Royal Responder, of Fort Collins, Colo.; Jay Unzicker of Arizona; Cyberpower Pty. Ltd; 1505820 Ontario Inc., of Ontario, Canada; Florida resident Edward Davidson; Matrix Consulting Group LLC, of Wisconsin; and California resident Daniel Byron Black. Zapolsky said in the statement that spoofing is a widespread problem for companies with well-known domain names that communicate with customers through e-mail. "Its not just spam; its consumer fraud," he said. "And the actions taken today by and by the state of New York will send a strong message to anyone engaged in this conduct that it will not be tolerated."
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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