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Amazon and Microsoft have launched a new anti-spam offensive - filing several lawsuits against organisations they allege have spoofed the Amazon.com domain name in spamming and phishing operations.

"Since August 2003, Amazon.com has received tens of thousands of emails from customers, alerting us to potentially fraudulent email activity," said David Zapolsky, vice president and associate general counsel for Amazon.com. "We are going to continue our efforts to protect customers from these schemes and will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extents of the law."

The Seattle-area companies filed a joint federal suit against Gold Disk Canada, alleging that the company is responsible for sending "millions of deceptive emails". Barry Head and his two sons are also named in the suit, filed in the US District Court in Seattle, accused of carrying out illegal spamming campaigns that misused Hotmail, and also spoofed the Amazon.com domain.

Separately, Amazon has filed three lawsuits in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, alleging that the unidentified defendants went phishing with the aim of defrauding Amazon.com customers.

Microsoft has also filed a suit on its own account: it alleges that Leonid Radvinsky spammed hotmail.com users with deceptive messages, some of which purported to be from Amazon.com accounts.

None of those named in the suits is on Spamhaus' Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO.) ROKSO is a list of 200 organisations around the world thought to be responsible for 90 per cent of the spam that clogs our inboxes. An organisation has to have been cut off by three consecutive ISPs for serious spam offecses to qualify for the dubious honour of inclusion.

The companies say the legal action should be a wake-up call for spammers. Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, noted: "The industry is teaming up, pooling resources and sharing investigative information to put [the spammers] out of business." ®

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