SEATTLE - The Attorney General's High Tech Unit has filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court against a California-based spammer who sells printing supplies over the Internet.
The lawsuit, filed against A Plus Imaging Products, Inc., and its officer, Abbott Antin, alleges that the defendants send spam that uses misleading subject lines such as "thanks a bunch," and "you read this?" on e-mails that purport to come from personal friends of the recipient, such as "Anthony" or "Melissa." When recipients open the email, they find an advertisement for the sale of toner, inkjets and other printing supplies.
"The defendants were trying to make people believe they were receiving important information from someone they already knew, when, in fact, it was nothing more than a commercial pitch," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "When email spam is misleading and deceptive, it's more than just annoying. In Washington, it's illegal."
The lawsuit contends the emails violate the state's Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act, which outlaws misleading and deceptive subject lines and false sender information that conceals the email's true source. The Attorney General's Office believes the defendants have sent thousands of emails to Washington residents.
In a unique public-private partnership, Microsoft helped in this lawsuit by supplying investigative information about the defendants, as well as providing information about deceptive emails sent through their Hotmail system to Washington addresses. Gregoire praised Microsoft for helping her office with this case.
"The filing of this case shows that the partnership of business, government and consumers is effective. Spammers should be prepared to defend themselves in court, overcome increasingly effective anti-spam technology, and face better educated consumers," said Gregoire.
The Attorney General's Office is asking for a court order to permanently ban further deceptive emails and is seeking up to $2,000 in civil penalties per violation.
For more information about spam emails and where consumers can file their junk email complaints, visit the AG Office's Web site.
Audio clip of Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire