FTC Files Third CAN-SPAM Suit

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The Federal Trade Commission said last week that it launched its third court action under the 7-month-old federal anti-spam law.


The lawsuit, filed July 21 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses a Florida man of using open proxies and other fraudulent methods to hide his identity to bombard e-mail users with pitches for human growth hormone products.


According to the FTC, Creaghan Harry of Boca Raton, FL, sent millions of e-mails marketing products such as Supreme Formula HGH and Youthful Vigor HGH. The FTC said the messages conned consumers into spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Medical experts hired by the FTC determined the products have no medicinal value.


The FTC complaint accuses Harry of violating at least three provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, by using open proxies to hide the source of the messages, not including an unsubscribe option and not including a postal address.


The FTC said it received 57,000 complaints about Harry's e-mails from Jan. 1 to May 19.


On July 27, the District Court in Chicago granted the FTC a preliminary injunction. The order froze Harry's assets and prohibits him from marketing his human growth hormone products.


Harry appears on anti-spam organization Spamhaus' list of the world's top 200 spammers.


CAN-SPAM, which took effect Jan. 1, reserves enforcement action for Internet service providers, the FTC and state attorneys general. Federal enforcement has been slow. In a May Senate hearing on the law, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, urged the FTC to bring more cases against spammers and marketers who use spam. The FTC has 50 people assigned to CAN-SPAM enforcement.


The FTC filed its first lawsuits under the CAN-SPAM Act in April. The first suit accuses four Detroit-area men of leading a spam operation that marketed diet patches in e-mails with fake addresses. The second alleged that an Australian company, Global Web Promotions, marketed human growth hormone products in e-mails that disguised their source. Both cases are pending.


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