The Texas attorney general's office filed suit against two alleged spammers, the first state-level spam suit in Texas.
The lawsuit names Ryan Pitylak, a University of Texas student, and his Encinitas, CA-based business partner Mark Trotter. The defendants are accused of running a spamming operation that is ranked No. 4 on Spamhaus' list of the top spam operations worldwide.
Texas attorney general Greg Abbott announced the suits Thursday. They accuse Pitylak and Trotter of running companies called PayPerAction, Leadplex and Eastmark Technology that used deceptive unsolicited commercial e-mail to generate mortgage-refinancing leads they sold for up to $28 each. According to published reports, Pitylak, 22, lives in a house valued at $450,000.
The Texas legal complaint was filed under the CAN-SPAM Act and Texas' anti-spam law and anti-deception law. Under CAN-SPAM, the defendants could face up to $2 million in fines. Abbott said Pitylak and Trotter operated PayPerAction under more than 250 names since going into business in 2002.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants used misleading subject lines and did not include notice that the e-mails were ads.
Though often thought sidelined by the federal CAN-SPAM Act, states have started to press spam cases. Massachusetts' and Virginia's attorneys general have used state laws to prosecute spammers. AOL has pushed for the passage of anti-spam bills in Virginia, Ohio and Maryland that make fraudulent spam a felony. The CAN-SPAM Act overrides state anti-spam laws, but it allows for enforcement of state laws covering fraud.
Brian Morrissey covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters