Microsoft Helps Thwart Infamous Spam Ring

In a cooperative effort with Microsoft, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly filed a lawsuit today against an Internet spam ring operating near Boston. The group is allegedly responsible for sending hundreds of millions of unwanted, deceptive spam messages each month in violation of both federal and state law.

The Massachusetts attorney general’s office filed suit against nine defendants, accusing them of sending illegal spam, as well as advertising and promoting illegitimate software, prescription drugs and mortgages. The primary target in this lawsuit is Leo Kuvayev, the alleged organizer of the ring.

The seven individuals and two companies named in the suit have operated from suburbs in Boston and Russia. They used domain names registered in Monaco, Australia and France and servers in China, Korea, Brazil and Taiwan.

“Our goal is to shut this ring down and put them out of business,” Reilly told TechNewsWorld during a press conference. “We want them to know that the unwelcome mat is out for them and other scams like this in Massachusetts. We intend to fully enforce the law. Finally, we want to expose these schemes to better educate consumers on the dangers of rogue Web sites.”

Trap Accounts

Microsoft’s Internet Safety Enforcement team helped in the investigation by gathering and providing evidence of the defendants’ high-volume, illegal spam campaigns. During a three-week period in mid-2004, MSN Hotmail “trap” accounts — open e-mail accounts Microsoft monitors to capture spam — received at least 45,000 messages suspected to have originated from the Internet spam ring.

“Consumers don’t want their computers filled with this junk. It shuts down computer networks. It burdens computer servers and it can be intentionally deceptive and sometimes loaded with either viruses that crash computers or trickery designed to get you to give up your personal information,” Brad Smith, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the Microsoft Corporation, told TechNewsWorld during the press conference.

Stopping Spam at the Source

This case is important, he said, because it stops spam at its source. Smith reasoned that stopping spam at its source will stop the con games that spam is enabling, stop victims from being swindled, and stop children from being directed to pornographic sites.

Microsoft has previously collaborated with governments, law enforcement, and industry partners to file lawsuits against spammers. The company has provided technical expertise to attorneys general in Washington state, New York, Texas, Florida and California to help bring legal action against cybercriminals.

“As a company we are in an important position to help keep the Internet safe. But there’s a limit on what any company can do by itself,” Smith said. “Defeating illegal spam and the cybercrime that comes with it is something that requires the support of people like General Reilly.”

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