High noon for the spammers

The state of Texas has filed suit against two men accused of being among the worlds most prolific spammers, because 'Texans are fed up'

The US state of Texas has filed a civil lawsuit against two men it believes are among the planet's most prolific spammers, seeking millions of dollars in damages.

Ryan Pitylak and Mark Trotter are charged with breaking three laws relating to the legal distribution of marketing emails as covered by the controversial Can-Spam Act. The suit also invokes local laws the Texas Electronic Mail and Solicitation Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The two men are believed to be the heads of three companies named in the suit -- Leadplex Inc, Leadplex LLC and PayPerAction.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said: "Spam is one of the most aggravating and pervasive problems facing consumers today. Texans are fed up, and today’s action aims to give them relief by shutting down one of the world’s worst spam operations."

However, the effects of a successful action will be felt far beyond the boundaries of the Lone Star State.

Steve Linford from Spamhaus told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com his organisation has been working closely with Attorney General Abbott to get these operations shut down and expressed delight at the way Texas is going about achieving that.

The US has long been criticised for a disproportionate effort to crackdown on spam. While it is by far the most prolific source of spam its effectiveness in policing the problem has been limited -- a situation it appears to be resolving in part.

According to recent figures from Symantec, 62 percent of spam originates within the US -- compared to just 12 percent for the whole of Europe and well ahead of second placed Asia (21 percent).

Linford said it is particularly important that Texas be seen to act as it has previously been accused of offering safe-haven for spammers.

"We think it's very important that Texas has done this," said Linford. "Texas has now aligned itself with the other states, such as New York, which are getting the spammers into the courts. It sends out a clear message to the other spammers hiding in Texas that law enforcement will be coming for them."

"Now we just have to hope Florida takes similar steps. If the Attorney General of Florida was to announce similar initiatives that would send out the strongest message possible to spammers that they were nearing the end of the road, but we don't see that ever happening," said Linford adding the Attorney General of Florida "just isn't interested".

The news from Texas follows an announcement earlier this week by the Federal Trade Commission which has frozen the assets of five other alleged spammers and a number of companies including one based in London under provisions set out in Can-Spam.

The spammers in question were sending out unsolicited pornographic emails and their assets have been frozen and a temporary injunction put in place preventing them from sending any emails, ahead of a hearing and a possible permanent injunction.

Lydia Parnes, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement: "Spammers beware! We are on the side of parents and kids to protect their ability to filter out sexually-explicit emails."

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