Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

FTC Comes Down Hard on Spammers

In separate cases, agency slaps complaints on defendants for identity trafficking, bogus product claims

In the past two days, the Federal Trade Commission has filed two cases that could make spammers think twice about the lists they use and the claims they make.

Earlier today, the FTC slapped a complaint against eHealthylife.com, an international group of companies and individuals that has been using email to market Hoodia as a means of weight loss and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) as a method of reversing the aging process. In both cases, the FTC said the claims are unsubstantiated and ordered the company to stop making them.

The case could be a landmark, because it attacks spammers not only on their methods of delivery -- eHealthylife is charged with violations of the CAN-SPAM Act -- but also on the validity of their claims. The case is also the FTC's first use of the U.S. SAFEWEB Act, which was passed last year to help U.S. law enforcement agencies work more closely with foreign agencies to stop international cybercrime and online fraud.

According to the FTC complaint, the defendants falsely claimed that their supposed "Hoodia" products cause weight loss as high as 25 pounds in a month. The defendants also claimed that their HGH products would reverse the aging process by reducing cellulite, improving hearing and vision, causing new hair growth, improving emotional stability, and increasing muscle mass. The FTC charges that the defendants made all of these claims without evidence to support them.

In a separate complaint filed yesterday, the FTC and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service nailed Practical Marketing Inc. for selling mailing lists containing consumers’ credit card account numbers and security codes, bank account numbers and routing codes. Practical Marketing pleaded guilty to identity theft and was ordered to pay a $10,000 criminal fine and pay $100,000 to the USPIS Fraud Fund. The FTC is pursuing a separate civil suit against the company.

The complaint was the culmination of a sting operation by the FTC and the USPIS, in which undercover agents posed as Canadian telemarketers seeking email lists for an advance-fee credit card offer. Such credit cards violate FTC rules, bringing another charge against the defendants.

The quick arrest and guilty plea could give pause to identity thieves who collect consumers' personal information and then sell it to spammers and direct marketers. The FTC's suit is unusual in that it also holds the list seller responsible for how its downstream "clients" have used its lists. It requires Practical Marketing to evaluate the products and services its clients are offering and the truthfulness of their marketing claims; investigate any complaints it receives about its clients; terminate services to clients who are breaking the law; and report any terminated clients to the FTC.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19767
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
The Linux kernel before 5.4.2 mishandles ext4_expand_extra_isize, as demonstrated by use-after-free errors in __ext4_expand_extra_isize and ext4_xattr_set_entry, related to fs/ext4/inode.c and fs/ext4/super.c, aka CID-4ea99936a163.
CVE-2019-19768
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
In the Linux kernel 5.4.0-rc2, there is a use-after-free (read) in the __blk_add_trace function in kernel/trace/blktrace.c (which is used to fill out a blk_io_trace structure and place it in a per-cpu sub-buffer).
CVE-2019-19769
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
In the Linux kernel 5.3.10, there is a use-after-free (read) in the perf_trace_lock_acquire function (related to include/trace/events/lock.h).
CVE-2019-19770
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
In the Linux kernel 4.19.83, there is a use-after-free (read) in the debugfs_remove function in fs/debugfs/inode.c (which is used to remove a file or directory in debugfs that was previously created with a call to another debugfs function such as debugfs_create_file).
CVE-2019-19771
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
The lodahs package 0.0.1 for Node.js is a Trojan horse, and may have been installed by persons who mistyped the lodash package name. In particular, the Trojan horse finds and exfiltrates cryptocurrency wallets.