Amazon.com Combats E-Mail Forgery With Lawsuits | Adweek Amazon.com Combats E-Mail Forgery With Lawsuits | Adweek
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Amazon.com Combats E-Mail Forgery With Lawsuits

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NEW YORK Amazon.com has filed 11 federal lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada, seeking millions of dollars in punitive damages from online marketers who sent e-mails falsely labeled as coming from the e-commerce giant.

The Seattle-based company said the lawsuits are part of a broader initiative to crack down on and eliminate e-mail forgery or "spoofing," an illegal, deceptive online marketing ploy that conceals the true origin of an e-mail sender by using another's identity.

In addition to taking legal action, Amazon.com said it is working with several Internet service providers and other owners of trusted domain names to explore ways to make it more difficult to deliver a spoofed e-mail message and continues to support tough federal anti-spam legislation.

"Spoofing is a problem faced by any company with a trusted domain name that uses e-mail to communicate with its customers," David Zapolsky, Amazon.com vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. "It's not just spam; it's consumer fraud."

The lawsuits, filed in seven federal district courts in the U.S. and in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada, make claims against advertisers of a "human growth hormone," "gain pro penile pills" and "free cash grants," among other wares. The suits are available online at www.amazon.com/stopspoofing.

Amazon.com has already reached a settlement in principle with one of the accused spoofers, Cyebye.com, an appliance retailer in Brooklyn, N.Y., that allegedly promoted its goods through e-mails appearing to come from Amazon.com. The agreement, which includes an undisclosed payment of monetary damages, prohibits Cyebye.com from sending e-mail messages of any kind that include the Amazon.com name without permission from the e-tailer.

Another settlement Cyebye.com reached with the New York Attorney General's office requires the retailer to pay $10,000 in penalties to the state. The agreement also prohibits the company from using third parties' names to market, unless permission is obtained.

Amazon.com has set up a special e-mail account, stop-spoofing@amazon.com, for consumers to report suspected spoofing activity.