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New York wins spammer case

In what the state attorney general called a victory against online fraud, a court orders MonsterHut to stop telling consumers they had asked to be spammed.

A New York court has ordered a Niagara Falls company to stop telling consumers they had asked to be spammed.

Manhattan Superior Court Justice Lottie Wilkins permanently enjoined MonsterHut from falsely representing that it had obtained permission to send e-mail to consumers. The company was sued by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in May. Spitzer lauded the ruling this week.

"New Yorkers are being overwhelmed with unsolicited commercial e-mail," he said in a release. "This decision is another victory in our continuing battle against online fraud and will help consumers maintain control of their e-mail in-boxes."

MonsterHut could not be reached for comment.

The suit charged that MonsterHut had sent more than more than 500 million commercial e-mails since March 2001, claiming that the recipients had opted in to receive them. More than 750,000 people asked to be removed from the e-mail lists.

The suit is the latest court case that has gone against spammers. In December, America Online was awarded $7 million in damages in a suit against a junk e-mail company. And free-speech group won $1,000 in a small-claims suit against a company that was accused of using deceptive information such as a forged return e-mail address or misleading subject line.

The court in the MonsterHut case also rejected MonsterHut's argument that it was not liable for the misrepresentation since it purchased the e-mail addresses from third parties that it believed had acquired the names through an opt-in process. A hearing will be held Feb. 11 to settle issues of civil penalties, damages and restitution to consumers.