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FTC Smacks Spammer With $900,000 Fine

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday nailed a spammer with a record-setting $900,000 fine for violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

According to a complaint filed by the FTC, JumpStart Technologies of San Francisco, Calif. has spammed consumers since 2002, sending millions of messages disguised as personal e-mails in an attempt to hype its FreeFlixTix Web site.

JumpStart, charged the FTC, collected e-mail addresses by offering free movie tickets to consumers in exchange for ratting out the names and e-mail addresses of five or more of friends. JumpStart then sent those friends messages with the rat's e-mail address in the "From:" line and a personal Subject: such as "Hey," "Happy Valentine’s Day," or "Invite."

The spammer turned to such underhanded tactics, the FTC said, to slip mail by anti-spam filters and get recipients to open and read its messages.

"[JumpStart] intentionally used personal messages as a cover-up," said Lydia Parnes, the director of the FTC's consumer protection division, in a statement. "Deceptive subject lines and headers not only violate the CAN-SPAM Act, but also consumer trust."

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