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Bulk e-mailer faces legal action

New York State filed suit against bulk e-mailer MonsterHut yesterday, alleging that the company spammed consumers with 500...

New York State filed suit against bulk e-mailer MonsterHut yesterday, alleging that the company spammed consumers with 500 million e-mails.

Under New York state law, the company could be fined $500 for each violation. However, attorney general spokesman Brad Mione said no monetary damages have been specified in the suit.

"We are seeking to prevent MonsterHut from continuing its fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices, not just over [Internet service provider] PaeTec's network, but over any ISP in New York," attorney general Eliot Spitzer said in a statement.

Spitzer charged that MonsterHut chief executive officer Todd Pelow and chief technology officer Gary Hartl falsely advertised their e-mail services as opt-in, or permission-based, meaning that consumers gave the company permission to send them e-mails. Spitzer said only a portion of the company's e-mail customers actually gave that permission.

In addition, 750,000 people have asked to be removed from MonsterHut's e-mail lists; the total number of consumers on MonsterHut's lists was not specified. Part of what Spitzer wants from the company is a detailed explanation of how and where it obtained its e-mail lists.

MonsterHut officials were unavailable for comment

The suit adds to the company's legal difficulties. On May 6, MonsterHut's ISP, PaeTec Communications, won the right to disconnect MonsterHut. PaeTec had been barred from disconnecting MonsterHut for 13 months by an injunction from a lower court.

No trial date has been set, and the two parties are expected to enter negotiations aimed at reaching a settlement soon.

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