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Web firm takes on Cyber Promotions

Gavin Clarkson says he's going to put a stop to spammers who hide their tracks by giving bogus return addresses.

Gavin Clarkson says notorious spamming outfit Cyber Promotions has picked the wrong stooge this time.

Clarkson, chairman of Web Systems, today won a temporary restraining against Cyber Promotions, preventing the junk email company from sending out spam with his Web site as a return address.

The charge is that someone from Cyber Promotions used his email address as a return path to hide the fact that the email was coming from Cyber Promotions. The alleged subterfuge overwhelmed his server and almost shut down his business, a training ground for disabled people. The mail flooded the servers at his Web development company because the junk email used the phony address of business@webs.com as a return address.

Clarkson is so angry that he is seeking a temporary injunction against Cyber Promotions and its spamming operations and intends to file a class-action suit.

"He picked the wrong domain to spoof," Clarkson declared. He said he got of hundreds of angry emails from people who had been spammed. He also traced thousands of bounced email messages directly back to Cyber Promotions.

Clarkson says he doesn't want his company to be known as a spammer. "We live and die by our email. Since we've got folks in wheelchairs, if email is down, that's a serious disruption of our business."

Webs.com is far from the first company to complain that their servers have been shut down by spammers trying to hide their tracks. Several ISPs have already gone after Cyber Promotions for the same practice.

But Clarkson wants to put an end to it once and for all. He's slated to head back to court Thursday on the matter, when he will ask the court to categorize all domain-name owners as a class. He would then file a class-action suit to prevent Cyber Promotions from using the email servers at any domain name.

"If we just stop him from using Webs.com, all he does is move onto someone else who is poor and unsuspecting. I wanted to be able to come up with something that has teeth," Clarkson added.

Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions, could not be reached for comment. Wallace has often said that he does not use bogus return addresses but that some of his clients do.

Clarkson said that's not a good excuse. "If it's his spamming that causes all these problems, he bears ultimate responsibility for it."