Microsoft, Amazon.com file phishing, spamming lawsuits

Microsoft and Amazon.com filed one joint and several separate lawsuits on Monday against companies and individuals accusing them variously of trying to defraud consumers by imitating Amazon and Microsoft, the companies said Tuesday.

Phishing typically use spamming techniques to send millions of e-mail messages disguised to look like they come from a reputable source, such as an e-commerce site or bank. The e-mail usually tries to persuade its recipient to visit an equally official-looking Web site to confirm their password or credit card number by typing into the site.

The joint lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle against Gold Disk Canada, and alleges the company is responsible for sending millions of deceptive e-mail messages, including e-mail forgeries falsely purporting to have come from Amazon.com, Hotmail.com and other domains, the two companies said in a statement. The lawsuit also names codefendants, including Barry Head and his two sons, Eric and Matthew, according to the companies.

Amazon.com also filed three lawsuits in the King County Superior Court in Seattle against unidentified defendants for their alleged involvement in phishing schemes targeted at its customers, the company said.

Microsoft said it filed a lawsuit against Leonid ("Leo") Radvinsky and his companies, Activsoft Inc. and Cybertania Inc., and several unidentified defendants against whom Amazon.com filed suit in August 2003. The Microsoft lawsuit alleges that Radvinsky sent millions of illegal and deceptive e-mail messages to Hotmail customers including messages that were falsely labeled as coming from Amazon.com.

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