Florida Wins First Injunction Against Spammers

MIAMI (Reuters) - The U.S. state of Florida won its first victory against "spam" electronic mail when a judge granted an injunction against two men accused of running mass emailing operations, the state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said the injunction preventing the men from sending any more deceptive emails was part of his department's first prosecution under an anti-spam law passed by the state legislature last year.

The men, Scott Filary, 25, and Donald Townsend, 34, both of Tampa, are accused of sending more than 65,000 emails, many with misleading subject lines and disguised origins.

The emails took recipients to Web sites Crist said were engaged in fraudulent or illegal activities, such as selling pharmaceuticals and cigarettes online or providing a platform for the illegal downloading of copyrighted movies.

The investigation was aided by software giant Microsoft Corp. whose Windows operating system runs more than 90 percent of the world's computers.

The Florida anti-spam law allows for a fine of up to $500 per email, or $24 million in the case of the two accused spammers, Crist said in a statement.

A national anti-spam law took effect at the start of 2004 but has done little to curb the flood of spam clogging email inboxes.

Spam accounts for more than 80 percent of all email traffic, costing businesses billions a year in lost productivity and bandwidth.

A court in Virginia jailed a North Carolina man this week to nine years in prison for sending millions of pieces of spam, although the judge postponed the sentence while the case was appealed. It was the nation's first felony prosecution of a spammer.

2005 Reuters Limited.

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