Amazon.com, Microsoft Go After Phishers

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Online superstore Amazon.com has teamed up with Microsoft to sue a Canadian spamming ring that allegedly spoofed Hotmail and Amazon.com e-mail addresses to trick consumers.

The joint federal suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, accused Gold Disk Canada of forging the MSN Hotmail service and the Amazon.com name to send millions of phishing e-mails. The suit also named Barry Head and his two sons Eric and Matthew as co-defendants.

In addition to the joint suit with Microsoft, Amazon.com also filed three separate lawsuits against three unidentified defendants, accusing them of using phishing schemes to defraud its customers.

Microsoft also filed a new and separate lawsuit against Leonid Radvinsky and his Chicago-based businesses Activsoft and Cybertania, along with several additional unidentified defendants. The Microsoft suit alleges that Radvinsky sent millions of illegal and deceptive e-mail messages to MSN Hotmail customers, including messages that were falsely labeled as coming from Amazon.com.

Phishing attacks targeting the financial services and e-commerce sectors have skyrocketed this year with losses estimated in the range of $1.2 billion annually.

The collaboration between Microsoft and Amazon.com underscores the industry's seriousness about dealing with the phishing scourge, said Microsoft lead counsel Brad Smith.

"Today's alliance should be yet another wake-up call for spammers and phishers that the industry is teaming up, pooling resources and sharing investigative information to put them out of business," Smith said in a statement.

The two companies also announced plans to collaborate to test new technology to make it more difficult to deliver fraudulent e-mail to consumers.

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