Yahoo Sues Anonymous Spammers In 'Lottery" Scam


The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City for violation of the Federal Trademark Act and the Federal CAN-SPAM Act, as well as other related state laws.

While so far the defendants remain unknown, Yahoo hopes that they will be able to apprehend the perpetrators by tracking their e-mail addresses.

"We are going after individuals who have attempted to negatively impact the e-mail experience for consumers across the Internet," said John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail, in a statement. "Through our continued litigation efforts, our top goal and priority is to further protect Yahoo Mail users and the public from this type of fraudulent activity."

Altogether, court documents allege that numerous scammers have willfully impersonated the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based search engine, claiming that victims won prizes that ranged from a few thousand to a million dollars. The scammers then instructed Yahoo users to open a link or submit personal information, such as credit cards, bank accounts and passwords to a "Yahoo lottery coordinator" in order to receive their prize. In addition, some of the fraudulent messages requested that victims send additional fees for processing and mailing.

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The company maintained that it does not offer lottery-type prizes and has no affiliation with the spammers and their illegal e-mail communications.

In phishing scams, attackers will typically impersonate a familiar or legitimate organization in order to entice users to reveal personal and financial information which can be later used to access bank accounts, run up charges on credit cards, or to create fraudulent documents which can later be sold on numerous underground economies.

The lawsuit is part of Yahoo's broader effort to start cracking down on Internet scammers that impersonate or misuse the company's name for illegal cyber activity, which includes spam and e-mail fraud, company execs say.

"The unauthorized use of Yahoo's trademarks is misleading, fraudulent and has actually confused, misled and deceived the public," said Joe Siino, senior vice president of Yahoo Global IP and business strategy in a statement. "Yahoo will vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights and will not tolerate lottery hoaxes."

The lawsuit comes a few days after a judge awarded social networking giant MySpace a record $230 million to be paid by "Spam King" Sanford Wallace and his accomplices in a historic, anti-spam lawsuit.