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Amazon.com Teams with New York Attorney General to Combat Email Forgeries

Eleven U.S. and Canadian Lawsuits Seek Millions in Punitive Damages from Email Forgers Who Disguise Their Emails to Impersonate Amazon.com

SEATTLE, Aug 26, 2003 -- Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN) today and Monday filed federal lawsuits in the United States and Canada seeking to restrain 11 online marketers from sending email forgeries falsely labeled as coming from Amazon.com. As a deterrent to others, the suits also seek millions of dollars in punitive damages.

Simultaneously, the New York Attorney General's office has announced a settlement of civil fraud charges with one of the email forgers identified by Amazon.com. The agreement followed an investigation conducted with Amazon.com's cooperation. The settlement agreement prohibits Cyebye.com from using third parties' names to market, unless the company obtains authority to do so. The company is also required to keep records of all commercial emails during the next two years and provide the Attorney General's office with regular updates of its compliance with the settlement. Cyebye.com must pay $10,000 in penalties to the State of New York.

Amazon.com has also reached a settlement in principle with Cyebye.com. The agreement prohibits Cyebye.com from sending e-mail messages of any kind that include the Amazon.com name in any way without specific authorization from Amazon.com. The agreement also includes payment by Cyebye.com of monetary damages.

The Amazon.com lawsuits are only part of a broader company initiative to crack down on and eliminate email forgeries, also known as "spoofing," that affect the company. Spoofing is an illegal, deceptive online marketing ploy that conceals the true identity of an email sender and instead falsely identifies someone else as the sender.

"Spoofers lie about who's really sending these emails," said David Zapolsky, Amazon.com Vice President and Associate General Counsel. "Spoofing is forgery, and we're going after spoofers to the full extent of the law."

Zapolsky said the company has set up a special email account, stop-spoofing@amazon.com, for consumers to report suspected spoofing involving Amazon.com or to turn in email forgers posing as amazon.com.

Amazon.com is not the only trusted domain name that spoofers have abused with their email forgeries.

According to Zapolsky, "Spoofing is a problem faced by any company with a trusted domain name that uses e-mail to communicate with its customers. It's not just spam; it's consumer fraud. And the actions taken today by Amazon.com and by the state of New York will send a strong message to anyone engaged in this conduct that it will not be tolerated."

The lawsuits filed in seven Federal district courts in the United States and in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada make claims against:

  • E.B.A. Wholesale Corp. (d/b/a Cyebye.com), an appliance retailer in Brooklyn, NY, which promoted its home appliances through email appearing to come from "Amazon.Com (cyebye@cyebye.com)." This lawsuit has been settled as described above.
  • Several unidentified defendants who participated in an email scheme advertising "Healthproductsnow.net," which advertises a "human growth hormone" to treat a variety of ills, via email supposedly originating from "Keith Tori" (YBCOt5fmD@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Rockin Time Holdings, Inc., a Miami Beach, Florida-based operation touting "Gain Pro Penile Pills" through email designed to appear from "Andrea C. Valenzuela" (andrea.cvalenzuela3@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Royal Responder, a Fort Collins, Colorado, company, and Jay Unzicker of Arizona who advertised tools for creating and sending spam through email appearing to originate at "Jay U" (tifqixcnti@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Cyberpower Pty., Ltd., and several unidentified defendants who participated in an email scheme advertising GrantGiveaways.com, a website offering "Free Cash Grants, Never Repay," through unsolicited email supposedly sent by "Eddy" (HfCdnGUDBdt9A9@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Several unidentified defendants who participated in an email scheme advertising ImmunoShield, an immune system enhancing liquid spray created by Enzymatic Therapy, Inc., a Green Bay, Wisconsin, company, through emails appearing to come from "Marie" (2c4O446r@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • 1505820 Ontario, Inc., an Ontario, Canada, corporation operating "Jsuati.com," which collects email addresses of consumers who attempt to opt out of receiving spoofed messages designed to appear as if they originated at "Fran K. Stuart" (fstuart_47@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Several unidentified defendants who participated in an email scheme advertising "Cheapfilter.com," a website offering a device that purportedly allows the consumer to receive Pay-Per-View channels "completely free," through emails appearing to originate at "Douglas" (evAdt@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Edward Davidson, an individual residing in Florida who advertised "VP-RX" penile pills through emails appearing to be sent by "Connor Long" (connorlong68@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Matrix Consulting Group, LLC, a Wisconsin company that participated in an email scheme advertising "GainPro" penile pills through unsolicited emails supposedly sent by "Katherine Anderson" (kanderson@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.
  • Daniel Byron Black, a California resident who sent emails advertising extended automobile warranties through unsolicited emails supposedly sent by "Arnold Jeff" (fr0QiseghgaWh@amazon.com) and similar nonexistent amazon.com email addresses.

The lawsuits will be available online at www.amazon.com/stopspoofing. In addition to the lawsuits, Amazon.com:

  • Will continue to investigate and take legal action against those who use Amazon.com's name to send deceptive email.
  • Has begun working with several internet service providers and other owners of trusted domain names in an attempt to explore and promote technical solutions that would make it more difficult to deliver a spoofed e-mail message to unsuspecting consumers.
  • Will continue to support federal anti-spam legislation that would impose tough penalties against spoofing and similar deceptive email practices.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened its virtual doors on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and sellers list millions of unique new and used items in categories such as apparel and accessories, electronics, computers, kitchenware and housewares, books, music, DVDs, videos, cameras and photo items, toys, baby items and baby registry, software, computer and video games, cell phones and service, tools and hardware, travel services, magazine subscriptions and outdoor living items.

Amazon.com operates five international Web sites: www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.co.jp and www.amazon.ca.

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to potential future losses, significant amount of indebtedness, competition, commercial agreements and strategic alliances, seasonality, potential fluctuations in operating results and rate of growth, foreign exchange rates, management of potential growth, system interruption, international expansion, consumer trends, inventory, fulfillment center optimization, limited operating history, government regulation and taxation, fraud, and new business areas. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2002, and all subsequent filings.

SOURCE: Amazon.com


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