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  1. #1
    Roll Tide mobilebadboy's Avatar
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    Microsoft, Pfizer file parallel suits on Viagra spam ring
    NEW YORK (AFP) - Software giant Microsoft and pharmaceutical maker Pfizer announced parallel lawsuits against two "international pharmacy spam rings" selling purported generic versions of Viagra on the Internet.

    The two companies said in a joint statement Thursday that they filed a total of 17 suits against defendants "involved in the sale and advertising of potentially dangerous medications."

    Pfizer said two websites named in the suit "sell products that are unapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration" purported to be copies of the company's blockbuster erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra.

    The actions are the result of a seven-month investigation by the two companies.

    Among those named in the suits are CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct.

    In addition, Microsoft filed three suits against spammers who advertise other online pharmacies known under a variety of names, such as "Discount RX," "Virtual RX," and "EzyDrugStore.com."

    "Together, these pharmacy spam rings have allegedly sent hundreds of millions of e-mail messages to Microsoft's MSN Hotmail customers within the past year alone," the statement said.

    The e-mails use deceptive advertising in violation of the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the companies said.

    "As the maker of Viagra, the market leader in erectile dysfunction, Pfizer is committed to protecting the public from health and other risks associated with the illegal sale of fake and unapproved generic products claiming to be Viagra," said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president and general counsel at Pfizer.

    "Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited email that overwhelm people's inboxes."

    According to the investigation by the companies, online orders are received on computers in New York, sent to a call center headquartered in Canada, and then to India for processing. The products are shipped from India to the United States and delivered by an air freight company based in the United States.
    Source: AFP courtesy of Yahoo!

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  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Wanna bet Bill Gates gets a free lifetime script....
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  3. #3
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Friday, February 11, 2005

    By LEWIS KRAUSKOPF
    STAFF WRITER



    Pfizer and Microsoft got tough Thursday on an issue almost anyone with an e-mail address can rally behind: stopping illegal spammers.

    The giant drug maker and technology powerhouse jointly announced 17 legal actions to quash international spam rings that operate Web sites selling illegal versions of Pfizer's Viagra.

    The pharmacy spam rings allegedly deluged Microsoft's Hotmail customers with hundreds of millions of e-mails within the past year alone.

    The actions culminated a seven-month investigation by the two companies in which they traced transactions around the world. In one case, they said they were able to detect a ring that stretched from New York to India and back to a warehouse in New Jersey.

    Aaron Kornblum, a Microsoft attorney specializing in Internet safety enforcement, described the joint legal strategy as unprecedented because it was targeting both spammers and the pharmacy Web site operators simultaneously.

    "These e-mails waste time, waste money and waste resources," Kornblum told reporters on a conference call. "But spam is not just annoying."

    Kornblum said illegal spam can lead to fraud, identification theft and, in this case, health risks from taking unapproved medicines.

    Viagra and similar erectile dysfunction drugs account for an estimated one in every four spam messages, the companies said.

    "If you've ever received unwanted spam, you've probably received spam about Viagra," said Beth Levine, Pfizer's general counsel for U.S. pharmaceuticals.

    Previously, the two companies mounted similar efforts on their own. New York-based Pfizer took action in August against 30 sites allegedly selling bogus Viagra, 29 of which have since stopped operating. Legal action is pending against the remaining one, a company spokesman said. Meanwhile, since early 2003, Microsoft has filed 94 lawsuits in the United States against spammers. The Redmond, Wash.-based company says it blocks 3.2 billion spam messages every day.

    Pfizer said it filed separate civil suits Thursday in federal court in New York against CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. The complaints allege unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and that the defendants are selling and importing non-FDA approved Viagra in violation of U.S. law.

    Microsoft filed two parallel suits in state Superior Court in Washington State against spammers promoting those two companies, alleging that the spammers sent e-mail with deceptive and misleading information in violation of the federal anti-spam act and other laws.

    The site linked to CanadianPharmacy, cndpharmacy.com, appeared not to be functioning following the announcement Thursday morning.

    The companies said they did not know who was controlling the sites, and referred to them in the suits as "John Does." But by filing the lawsuits, Kornblum said, Pfizer and Microsoft will gain subpoena powers that will allow them to gather more information. For example, if they have only an e-mail address, the companies will be able to go to Internet service providers to get information about who controls that address.

    Over the past seven months, investigators from both companies have worked side by side. Microsoft has set up more than 100,000 Hotmail accounts to collect e-mail for investigative purposes. Investigators would gather information by tracing that mail back to the Web sites.

    The probe led around the world. The companies found that one Web site was registered to a New York City man without his knowledge. One of the Viagra versions obtained during the probe was made by one of the largest drug companies in India, where generic Viagra is permitted, according to the companies.

    Also Thursday, Microsoft filed three suits against spammers promoting three other online pharmacies, DiscountRX, Virtual RX and EzyDrugStore.com. And Pfizer filed domain-name complaints against 10 sites alleging unauthorized use of Viagra in their names.

    Outside of shutting down the specific operations, the companies said, they hoped to draw consumer attention to safe purveyors of online drugs and to send a message to other spammers that they will continue to pursue them.

    Levine said Thursday that she couldn't estimate how much in sales Pfizer has lost to these unauthorized Web sites. She also said she was not aware of any reports of anyone who has been harmed through Internet purchases of bogus Viagra.

    Last August, Pfizer said a national company survey of 676 men found that 20 percent of men older than 35 who buy erectile dysfunction drugs do so on the Internet.

    Two-thirds of those men fail to check whether the site from which they are buying is legitimate, according to the survey.

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    Now watch the blackhat affiliates and the sleezebag networks get OUTED one by one as this case continues to follow the money trail. Who's paying who for What!
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