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Verizon wins injunction against text spammer

The individual allegedly barraged the carrier's customers with spam advertising home loans and adult Web sites.

A federal judge has granted Verizon Wireless a permanent injunction in its suit against a man accused of sending unsolicited text messages to its customers.

The company announced Monday that it won its suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey against Jacob Brown, a Rhode Island resident who allegedly barraged Verizon's wireless customers with large volumes of spam advertising home loans and adult Web sites. The ruling, which was officially handed down one week ago, bars Brown from sending further spam to Verizon's customers.

Brown did not immediately return phone calls placed to a phone number listed under his name in Pawtucket, R.I.

According to Verizon's suit, Brown and other unnamed individuals executed multiple spam campaigns against its customers. The Bedminster, N.J.-based company, which is the nation's top vendor of wireless services, said the spammers also tried to disguise their efforts by using the e-mail addresses of unknowing third parties to send the spam text messages, a practice referred to as "spoofing."

The lawsuit was the latest in a number of legal actions from Verizon aimed at discouraging the use of its network for spamming. The company has filed several lawsuits to take aim at text message spammers, including two claims brought in Georgia courts last year and a 2001 case it won against Acacia National Mortgage. Company representatives said the wireless vendor will continue to aggressively pursue spammers in an effort to insulate its customers from further attacks.

"Essentially we are selling our network, and we're not going to tolerate this sort of activity on our network," said J. Abra Degbor, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless. "We don't think our customers should be exposed to this sort of nuisance."

Degbor said that Verizon is actively working to defend its network from spammers by targeting the messages before they reach customers. However, the company does promise its customers refunds for any charges they incur receiving the unwanted advertisements. Wireless providers typically charge a few pennies for each text message its customers receive. Degbor declined to estimate how quickly the volume of wireless spam has increased or how many campaigns Verizon has successfully blocked, but she said the issue is of growing concern to the carrier.

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission voted to outlaw spam sent to mobile devices but warned that unsolicited text messages would not be covered by the ban. The FCC has previously expressed its belief that unsolicited text messages are restricted by the 1991 "junk fax" law, known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.