Federal regulators yesterday accused seven companies — including one in Seattle — of hiring others to send illegal e-mails with...
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators yesterday accused seven companies — including one in Seattle — of hiring others to send illegal e-mails with pornographic messages to tempt consumers to visit adult Internet sites.
The government said four of the firms already agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million to settle the charges, making it among the most aggressive government crackdowns on pornographic e-mail operations.
The Federal Trade Commission said the messages were not prominently marked “sexually explicit,” did not include instructions for consumers to block future e-mails and did not include a postal address, all required under federal law.
The FTC said the seven companies did not send e-mails directly to consumers but operated affiliate programs, paying others to send unwanted messages to drive Internet traffic to adult Web sites.
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The government said investigators from Microsoft helped track the companies. Microsoft analyzed the pornographic sites advertised in the e-mails to identify the companies responsible, the FTC said.
The FTC said it directed the Justice Department to file civil lawsuits against three of the companies: Impulse Media Group of Seattle; T.J. Web Productions of Henderson, Nev.; and Cyberheat of Tucson, Ariz.
An attorney for T.J. Web Productions said the company was still negotiating with the Justice Department. Seth Schermerhorn, an executive with Impulse Media Group, declined to comment. Cyberheat executives could not be reached for comment.
The FTC said four of the companies agreed to settle cases against them: BangBros.com of Miami; MD Media of Bingham Farms, Mich.; APC Entertainment of Davie, Fla.; Pure Marketing Solutions of Miami and Internet Matrix Technology of New Orleans, who reached a joint settlement. Spokespeople for the companies could not be reached for comment.