AG Cooper seeks to shut down spammer
Release date: 12/16/2005
Raleigh: A North Carolina man who sent hundreds of illegal “spam” e-mail messages pitching a device he falsely claimed would improve fuel mileage must be stopped, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“We’re seeking to shut down this spammer who sent out hundreds of misleading e-mails,” said Cooper. “Not only were these e-mails illegal spam, but the product he hawked doesn’t live up to his inflated claims.”
Cooper filed suit this week against Michael Abbott of Rockwell, NC for sending out hundreds of unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages or spam e-mails advertising a product known as Super FuelMAX or Fuel Saver Pro. The Attorney General is asking the court to stop Abbott from sending illegal spam and to order him to pay refunds to consumers who purchased the product. The suit is the first brought by Cooper’s office under the CAN SPAM Act, a federal law enacted last year to cut down on spam.
As alleged in the complaint, Abbott sent out unsolicited commercial e-mails advertising the Fuel Saver Pro to a total of 742 e-mail addresses between January 25, 2004, and March 30, 2004. At least 179 of these messages were sent to MSN Hotmail e-mail accounts which Microsoft Corporation had created and registered as “spam traps.” While it is unknown exactly how many unsolicited commercial e-mails Abbott has sent, PayPal records indicate that he purchased e-mail lists containing millions of e-mail addresses.
Cooper contends that Abbott attempted to mislead consumers by sending e-mails that appeared to come from someone other than him. For instance, one e-mail claimed to come from Dominick Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org when the e-mail really came from Abbott. Abbott’s e-mails also broke the law by including inaccurate header information and by failing to clearly provide a way for people who received these messages to stop getting more e-mail from him. Abbott also did not include a valid physical address in his commercial e-mails, sometimes using the address for a company in Everett, Washington that doesn’t appear to be connected to Abbott.
Not only were Abbott’s e-mails illegal spam, but Cooper also charges that Abbott misrepresented the benefits of the Fuel Saver Pro. Abbott’s spam e-mails touted that the device would boost gas mileage by more than 27% and that it had been tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. In fact, the Fuel Saver Pro is essentially a magnet that is supposed to be placed in a consumer’s automobile fuel line, and an EPA study has shown it to be totally ineffective at improving gas mileage as promised in the e-mails.
“We’re sending a signal to other spammers who may be operating in our state that we won’t tolerate these deceptive e-mails,” said Cooper. Consumers who receive deceptive spam should report it to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding the message to email@example.com. People can also report spam to their Internet service provider.