“Date Lonely Wife” Invitation Turned Down by FTC

U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve has, at the request of the FTC, frozen the assets of Clevelink Trading and Real World Media after receiving complaints that the companies were driving traffic to their sites in violation of the recently enacted CAN-SPAM Act.

The FTC alleges that the spam sent out by Defendants contained a “date lonely wife” subject line and a brief message containing a hyperlink to Defendants’ website. The methods used by the Defendants to send the messages violated a number of provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, including a provision requiring marketers to adequately label messages containing adult sexual content.

The FTC alleges that the Defendants operate close to 200 websites, many of which falsely claim to be registered with other entities around the world. In addition, defendants use offshore payment processors, have foreign bank accounts, route the messages through other people’s computers (to throw off enforcers), have false contact email addresses, and don’t allow people to unsubscribe. Perhaps most importantly for some consumers, there were no lonely housewives to date at all. That’s just plain wrong.

Practice Pointer: The CAN-SPAM Act, which went into effect January 1, 2004, covers email transmission where the primary purpose of the email is commercial in nature. Operators of websites should familiarize themselves with the basic provisions of the Act. In its most basic form, the Act bans the use of false or misleading headers, prohibits deceptive subject lines, and requires that commercial emails have an “opt-out” mechanism so consumers do not have to receive future emails.

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