Federal prosecutors yesterday charged four West Bloomfield, Mi., men with sending more than a million illegal e-mail messages. The Detroit News says it is the nation's first case under a new federal law aimed at preventing spam. The men were accused of sending spam e-mail messages to sell phony diet aids and other products. The government says the men illegally used well-known company and government computers – including Ford Motor Co., Amoco, Unisys, the U.S. Army Information Center and the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts – to send junk e-mail that appeared to be legitimate. They are charged with mail fraud and intentionally sending spam using false addresses, and for sending unsolicited mass e-mail pitches for a phony product.
Spam accounts for almost half of all Internet traffic – and as many as 15 billion unsolicited e-mail messages a day, says the research firm Basex. Spam costs companies about $20 billion a year in lost productivity and computer costs, and is growing at almost 100 percent annually.
The Federal Trade Commission will file a civil suit against the men. The agency will seek a temporary restraining order asking a judge to prevent them from sending more spam.