FTC Stops 4 Spamming Operations

Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — Four companies pushing sexually explicit spam, including one that enticed users with the chance to “date lonely housewives,” have been stopped in their tracks by The Federal Trade Commission, which recently announced that it has shut down the companies because of allegations that they violated the Can-Spam Act.

The FTC, which brought charges against the four separate companies in federal courts in Illinois and Arizona, said the companies violated virtually every provision of the Can-Spam Act, including the adult labeling rule, which mandates that sexually explicit material be identified as such in the subject line of the email.

In its case against Cleverlink Trading, which operated the “date lonely wives” campaign, the FTC settled with the company. Under the terms of the settlement the company agreed to give up $400,000 in spam-related profits. The U.S. District Court in Chicago approved the settlement.

In a second case, the FTC settled with spammer Zachary Kinion, who pushed a range of adult content sites and mortgages. Kinion agreed to pay $151,000 in fines, but the FTC said the judgment has been suspended because of the defendant’s inability to pay.

A third case involving “spam zombies” — computers used without their owners’ knowledge — was brought by the FTC against William Dugger, Angelina Johnson and John Vitale. That settlement, approved by a U.S. District Court in Arizona, requires the three defendants to pay $8,000 each and obtain permission from third parties before sending email from computers they don’t own.

The fourth spam operation taken down by the FTC was operated by Brian McMullen, who ran BM Entertainment and B Pimp. An Illinois federal court approved a $24,193 settlement with McMullen, who was accused of hawking pharmaceuticals and adult content online.

McMullen also pleaded guilty to several criminal spam charges as well unauthorized possession of credit cards. He is currently awaiting sentencing for those offenses.