MySpace sues 'spam king'

It accuses Scott Richter of using compromised accounts to spam users has filed a lawsuit against the self-proclaimed "spam king" for allegedly blasting the portal with unsolicited e-mails through the use of compromised user accounts.

MySpace also wants a permanent injunction to bar Scott Richter, who has fought with Microsoft Corp. and the state of New York over spam, and his affiliates from using the popular social networking site. Richter runs LLC, an e-mail marketing company in Westminster, Colo.

MySpace, which is owned by News Corp., also accused Richter of running afoul of the federal CAN-SPAM Act and California's antispam law. The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

MySpace users can send "bulletins" -- a few lines of text -- to blocks of users who are in their circle of friends. That distribution power has made MySpace a frequent target for spammers, who can reach up to thousands of users if they have the log-in and password for a single account.

The lawsuit accuses Richter and his associates of sending millions of bulletins from different user accounts without their knowledge between July and December 2006. The bulletins advertised ring tones and polo shirts, among other products, MySpace said.

The suit alleges that Richter obtained a list of compromised accounts or used a technique known as "phishing," where a hacker constructs a fraudulent Web page that harvests log-ins and passwords.

Richter has had other legal problems. He settled with Microsoft in August 2005 for $7 million, the largest settlement Microsoft obtained in more than 100 spam-related suits active at that time.

In 2004, Richter's company settled with New York for $40,000 plus $10,000 in investigative costs over spam. He also agreed to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and use correct information when registering domain names. 

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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