The charges were filed by a joint government Internet 'posse' made up of elements of the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, United States Postal Inspection Service, three United States Attorneys, four state attorneys general, and two state regulatory agencies.
"Today's Internet is not a lawless environment," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in an FTC press release. "In fact, the NetForce partnership demonstrates the importance of enforcement on the Internet beat. We have the biggest impact on deceptive spammers and online scammers when law enforcement agencies band together to root out and prosecute fraud."
Shutting Open Doors
Zeroing in on email "spam," the FTC along with 21 U.S. and international agencies, are attempting to compel Internet operators in 59 countries to close "open email relays." Open relays allow third parties to route their email through servers of other organizations, thereby disguising the real origin of the e-mail. Spammers identify and use other organizations' open relays to avoid detection by the spam filter systems used by internet service providers to protect their customers from unwanted spam. Routing spam through open relays also makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down deceptive spammers.
"Law enforcement is not the only way to tackle spam problems," added Beales in his press release. "Through this education initiative, we hope organizations throughout the world will shut the door on unwanted spam by securing their servers."
The lawsuits filed by the FTC charge the defendants with a wide array of deceptive schemes and illegal scams, including:
The federal posse promises many future actions against online schemes such as, auction fraud, the illegal sale of controlled substances, bogus business opportunities, deceptive money-making scams, illegal advance-fee credit card offers, and identity theft.
Learn to Combat Spam
The FTC has a Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/spam to combat spam and has developed a publication, "Open Relays - Close the Door on Spam," to encourage businesses, consumers, academic institutions and others to close open relays. To find out more about the open relay project go to http://www.ftc.gov/openrelay.
Turn In the Spammers
You can also fight spammers by forwarding their messages directly to the FTC at email address email@example.com. The FTC uses the unsolicited emails stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive spam email. Internet users currently forward over 85,000 spam email messages to the FTC every day.