Massachusetts settles its first antispam case

A Florida man and his company must pay a US$25,000 fine to settle a spam case that was filed against him earlier this year by the Massachusetts attorney general's office.

In an announcement last Thursday, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said William C. Carson and his business, DC Enterprises, agreed to pay the fine and to stop sending thousands of unsolicited e-mails. The settlement was filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts.

Carson and his company allegedly sent thousands of commercial e-mails from a business address where the company had no physical presence. The allegations were outlined in a June lawsuit brought by Reilly, which described how the company's actions violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and the US federal CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

"Internet marketers should note that Massachusetts takes seriously federal and state laws meant to protect against unwanted and misleading e-mails," Reilly said in a statement. "These messages are the type of unwanted and annoying solicitations that have become the scourge of Internet users and threaten the credibility of companies using e-mail for legitimate purposes."

Carson and his company were sued by Reilly's office after the business allegedly sent thousands of messages to consumers without providing ways for them to opt out of getting future e-mails. The complaint alleged that the e-mails offered "preapproved mortgage rates even with bad credit" to consumers in Massachusetts and other states.

Carson allegedly used an invalid business address in his messages, which violates antispam laws. The complaint also said he allegedly failed to clearly identify messages as advertisements and used a nonfunctioning sender address, all of which violate federal and state antispam laws.

A spokesman for Reilly's office couldn't be reached Monday.

Attempts to reach Carson for comment on a listed phone number were also unsuccessful today.

The Massachusetts lawsuit was the first enforcement action taken by a state under the CAN-SPAM Act, according to Reilly's office.

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Todd R. Weiss

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