FTC breaks up chain-letter spammers

FTC breaks up chain-letter spammers

The Federal Trade Commission launched an attack on purveyors of deceptive spam, announcing settlements with and injunctions against seven defendants who confessed to spamming consumers with chain letters aimed at cheating them out of cash.

The chain letters promised riches to consumers who sent cash in exchange for reports on how to start their own chain letter scams. FTC mounted a sting operation to identify the spammers. It had warned 1,000 spammers in September 2000 that their activities were illegal.

'This chain letter deceptively claims the program is legal and urges recruits who question its legitimacy to contact the FTC's associate director for marketing practices,' said FTC's Eileen Harrington. 'Well, I am the associate director for marketing practices, and these chain letters are illegal.'

The commission said the chain letter scams operated in more than 60 countries, and that it had collected more than 8 million spam messages since 1998. FTC also announced plans to launch a joint education campaign with Internet service providers.

The seven defendants entered their settlements in U.S. District Courts in California, Florida, North Dakota and Rhode Island.

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