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December 16, 2002
State Sues Porn-Promoting Spammer

SEATTLE - Attorney General Christine Gregoire today accused a Houston, Texas man of violating the state's anti-spam law by deceiving Washington residents into opening e-mail that contained sales pitches for prescription medications and pornographic web sites.

In a civil lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court, Gregoire's High-Tech Unit accused Ernesto Haberli -- also known as Eduardo Warren -- of sending e-mails with deceptive subject lines and attempting to conceal his identity through the use of a phony name in the e-mail's "from" field.

According to the complaint, Haberli used the deceptive subject lines as an enticement for recipients to open and read his messages. For example, some messages had subject lines that said "board meeting 3ish."

Often, the messages promoted commercial prescription medications such as Viagra. Others promoted hard core pornography with statements like "Do you like watching little girls … with their animals???"

"We will not permit e-mailed ads for pornography to be packaged as meeting reminders and other innocent messages," Gregoire said. "We can't eliminate all unsolicited e-mail, but we can use the state's anti-spam law to discourage the mass distribution of messages that claim to be one thing, and are something else entirely."

In the lawsuit, Gregoire asks that Haberli be barred from sending similar deceptive messages and that he pay civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation.

Attorneys and investigators are not yet certain how many e-mails Haberli sent but know that at least some went to faculty, staff and students with University of Washington e-mail addresses.




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