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Button Pushers’ Settle FTC Spamming Charges [04/17/2006]

Two spam merchants who hijacked consumers’ computers and turned them into spamming machines have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they sent illegal e-mails hawking mortgage opportunities, a device for improving gas mileage, and other products and services.

The settlement follows last year’s cross-border crackdown on “button pushers” who triggered millions of unwanted e-mails to people across the nation while concealing the real sender. Working with U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Canadian consumer protection officials, and three state attorneys general, the FTC filed charges against numerous defendants for sending spam with false “from” information and misleading subject lines, and for failing to provide an “opt-out” option or a physical address.

In November 2005, the FTC brought its lawsuit against Matthew Olson and Jennifer LeRoy, both of Washington State, as part of this “button pusher” sweep. The settlement bars them from further violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires that commercial e-mails contain accurate “from” information and subject lines, a working “opt-out” option, and a physical address, and clearly identify commercial spam as an advertisement. A $45,000 judgment against them will be suspended due to their inability to pay. It will be imposed if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

The Commission vote to authorize the staff to file the proposed stipulated final judgment and order for permanent injunction was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle on March 23. The Court entered the order on March 27.

NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

Copies of the stipulated final judgment and order for permanent injunction areavailable from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s ConsumerResponse Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


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