On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it was working with the state of Massachusetts to stop one of the world's largest spam rings, which was working out of the Boston area. The civil complaint resulted in a state judge ordering the shutdown of spam operation, which had been generating millions of unsolicited spam messages each month.
"We applaud \[Massachusetts\] Attorney General \[Tom\] Reilly for his strong leadership and sustained anti-spam efforts because spam is not just annoying, in this case, it's illegal," says Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel Brad Smith. "Spam can be devious, intentionally deceptive and is sometimes loaded with either viruses that crash computers or trickery designed to get you to give up your personal information."
Microsoft's Internet Safety Enforcement team helped Massachusetts investigate the spammers and provided evidence of the group's illegal activities. The company says that it operated numerous Hotmail "trap" accounts during a three week period in late 2004 that netted at least 45,000 spam messages that originated with the group.
Reilly noted that the group has stolen millions of dollars from consumers duped by the spam mail it sent. All of the members of the group work for an unincorporated entity called 2K Services Ltd. and Ecash Pay Ltd, but Reilly refers to them as an "Internet spam gang." According to the Attorney General, the group has repeatedly violated both Massachusetts' Consumer Protection Act and the federal CAN-SPAM Act. Criminal charges may follow.
For Microsoft, this collaboration with law enforcement officials is just the latest in a long string of similar partnerships that date back a few years. The company has worked with the states of California, Florida, New York, and Washington to bring cybercriminals to justice.