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FTC shuts down four spam rings

In two cases, spammers sent sexually explicit e-mail messages using "zombie" computers, the agency says.

The Federal Trade Commission has shut down four illegal Internet spam operations, including two that hijacked computers to send sexually explicit spam.

In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Cleverlink Trading and its partners were ordered to pay $400,000 made from sending e-mail that offered the opportunity to "date lonely wives" and that violated nearly every provision of the Can-Spam Act, the FTC said in a statement on Thursday.

The Can-Spam Act requires that spam e-mail messages be labeled as ads, include the sender's postal address, provide an opt-out method, label sexually explicit material as such, and not show graphic sexual images in the initially viewable area of the message, among other things.

In another case, the FTC alleged that Zachary Kinion sent spam that advertised adult sites, mortgage rates and privacy software. It also said that Kinion paid others to send unsolicited e-mail messages and sent spam via so-called "zombie" computers without the knowledge of the PC owners.

Kinion was ordered by the Illinois court to pay $151,000, but the judgment was suspended because of his inability to pay, the FTC said.

Also in the Illinois court, Brian McMullen, doing business as BM Entertainment and B Pimp, was ordered to pay $24,193. The judgment was suspended for inability to pay, the FTC said. McMullen also pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to sending spam and unauthorized possession of access devices--credit cards--the agency said. He is awaiting sentencing on those charges.

In the fourth case, in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, William Dugger, Angelina Johnson and John Vitale were ordered to pay $8,000 for using "spam zombies" and not correctly labeling sexually explicit spam, the FTC said.