EarthLink Announces Legal Action Against New York Spam Ring; ISP Seeks Court Order to Stop 'Buffalo Spammer'; Federal Hearing Set for Today
ATLANTA, May 7, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- EarthLink (ELNK) , one of the nation's leading Internet service providers, today announced its legal action to shut down a Buffalo, New York spam ring accused of sending more than 825 million illegal emails since March 2002. A hearing is scheduled for this morning in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
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EarthLink alleges that Howard Carmack, aka the "Buffalo Spammer," and his accomplices used stolen credit cards, identity theft, banking fraud and other illegal activities to fraudulently purchase Internet accounts and send out unsolicited, commercial emails.
"Spam is the bane of the Internet. By taking legal measures to shut down a spammer like Carmack, EarthLink can help preserve the Internet experience for all consumers, not just EarthLink subscribers," said Pete Wellborn, EarthLink's outside legal counsel who led the investigation. "With the Buffalo spammer, EarthLink is continuing its tradition of using state and federal laws to stop spammers."
EarthLink has a long history of fighting spam. Its multifaceted approach includes legal action, innovative technical solutions such as the EarthLink spaminator, legislative support and consumer education. In addition, EarthLink is planning to launch new tools to fight spam, including its spamBlocker product.
The Carmack case is the latest example of EarthLink using state and federal laws to take legal action against spammers who illegally abuse the Internet. In 1997, EarthLink obtained an injunction against Sanford Wallace, the most prolific spammer of his time, followed by a $2 million judgment against Wallace's company, Cyber Promotions, in 1998. Last year, in what is believed to be the one of the largest victories against a spammer, EarthLink received a $25 million judgment against K.C. Smith, shutting down an operation that had generated more than 1 billion unwanted emails on the Internet.
In the Carmack case, EarthLink has filed a motion for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and a motion for a default judgment in federal court alleging that Carmack "assumed the identities of other Carmack family members and of innocent third-parties to disguise his own involvement in these illegal activities." According to EarthLink's motion, Carmack's spam included advertisements for computer virus scripts, "work at home" and get rich quick schemes, bulk email software and lists to be used by other spammers, and cable TV descramblers.
As in previous cases, EarthLink is asking for injunctive relief that will prevent Carmack from illegally spamming any Internet user, regardless of the user's ISP. At today's hearing, EarthLink will present evidence regarding its request for injunctive relief. EarthLink is also seeking $16 million in damages.
EarthLink's Abuse Team identified a spike in spam from the Buffalo, New York, area in March 2002. The Abuse Team determined that the spam originated from a single spammer or spam ring, and in June, EarthLink filed a "John Doe" lawsuit against person or persons unknown. By October 2002, EarthLink had identified several individuals connected with the Buffalo spam ring. These individuals provided additional information that implicated Howard Carmack.
By November 2002, with witness testimony and additional investigation, "EarthLink had accumulated a mountain of evidence proving Carmack to be the mastermind of the Buffalo Spammer ring," according to EarthLink's motion. Carmack avoided EarthLink's process servers and private investigators for several months before being served with EarthLink's complaint in February 2003.
Mary Youngblood, EarthLink's Abuse Team manager who led the investigation within EarthLink to identify Carmack, noted, "EarthLink has a dedicated team of spam-fighting professionals, and we remain vigilant in our efforts to identify spammers and help bring them to justice."
EarthLink is the Internet service provider (ISP) solution for an impatient world. Headquartered in Atlanta, EarthLink has earned a national reputation for outstanding customer service and its suite of online products and services. According to J.D. Power and Associates, EarthLink is ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Dial-Up ISPs and tied in the ranking for Highest Customer Satisfaction Among High-Speed ISPs. Serving approximately five million subscribers, EarthLink offers what every user should expect from their Internet experience: high-quality connectivity, minimal drop-offs and ISP-generated intrusions, and customizable features. Whether it's dial-up, high-speed, Web hosting, or wireless Internet service, EarthLink provides the tools that best let individuals use and enjoy the Internet on their own terms. Learn more about EarthLink through its Core Values and Beliefs (http://www.earthlink.net/about/ourvalues/cvb/index.html ) or by calling (800) EARTHLINK and visiting EarthLink's Web site at www.earthlink.net .