RealTime IT News

Amazon Goes After the Flim-Flam Man

Web retail giant Amazon.com is going after the flim-flam man.

With e-mail spoofing described as the "hottest, and most troubling" new scam on the Internet, Amazon.com announced it had filed federal lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada to block 11 Web marketers from sending e-mails with forged senders' addresses.

The Seattle-based Amazon.com is seeking millions of dollars in punitive damages to serve as a deterrent to others.

E-mail spoofing , a common tactic of spammers and identity-theft scammers, occurs when the senders' address is forged to an e-mail appear as if it came from somewhere or someone other than the actual source. Scammers often use spoofing in an attempt to get recipients to open and possibly even respond to their solicitations.

In addition to Amazon.com, big-name firms like Citibank, Best Buy and PayPal have all been targets of scam-artists using the spoofing technique.

Amazon, which has set up a special section to counter e-mail spoofing, also announced it had reached a settlement with Brooklyn, New York-based Cyebye.com to prohibit the appliance retailer from sending e-mail messages that include the Amazon.com name. The Cyebye.com settlement included undisclosed monetary damages.

The New York Attorney General's office, which has adopted an aggressive stance against spamming, also settled civil fraud charges against Cyebye.com. The agreement requires Cyebye.com to keep records of all commercial e-mails send during the next two years and provide the New York AG's office with regular updates of its compliance with the settlement. Cyebye.com must also pay $10,000 in penalties to the State of New York.

Amazon.com said the 11 lawsuits filed Monday and Tuesday were "part of a broader company initiative to crack down on and eliminate email forgeries."

"Spoofers lie about who's really sending these e-mails. Spoofing is forgery, and we're going after spoofers to the full extent of the law," said Amazon.com vice president David Zapolsky.

He said a special email account (stop-spoofing@amazon.com) had been set up for consumers to report suspected spoofing involving Amazon.com or to turn in e-mail forgers posing as amazon.com. "Spoofing is a problem faced by any company with a trusted domain name that uses e-mail to communicate with its customers. It's not just spam; it's consumer fraud," he declared.

Zapolsky said the company would continue to investigate and take legal action against scammers who use Amazon.com's name to send deceptive email. Additionally, Amazon.com plans to work with several ISPs and other spoofing victims to "explore and promote technical solutions that would make it more difficult to deliver a spoofed e-mail message to unsuspecting consumers."

The 11 lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts and in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada make claims against E.B.A. Wholesale Corp. (included in the Cyebye.com settlement); several unidentified defendants engaged in an e-mail scheme advertising "Healthproductsnow.net,"; Rockin Time Holdings, Inc., a Miami Beach, Florida-based operation touting "Gain Pro Penile Pills" through allegedly forged Amazon.com e-mail.

Among others, Amazon.com also filed suits against Colorado-based Royal Responder and Jay Unzicker of Arizona, Cyberpower Pty., Ltd., and several unidentified defendants who allegedly forge e-mail addresses to advertise GrantGiveaways.com.