Yahoo filed the suit in U.S. District Court in New York, accusing defendants of violating the federal Trademark Act and Can-Spam Act and related state laws. The suit, which does not name specific defendants, was filed against "Yahoo lottery spammers."
The suit accuses the defendants of sending e-mail in which the alleged spammers masquerade as Yahoo and claim the recipients have won a lottery, prize, or other award from the portal. Yahoo says the e-mail is a hoax that seeks to trick recipients into revealing online passwords, credit-card information, and Social Security numbers. The stolen information is used to access victims' bank accounts and credit cards or to apply for unauthorized credit cards or loans. In addition, some victims are deceived into sending money for alleged processing and mailing charges.
"The unauthorized use of Yahoo trademarks is misleading, fraudulent, and has actually confused, misled and deceived the public," Joe Siino, senior VP for Yahoo business strategy, said in a statement.
The lawsuit is meant to send a "clear message" that Yahoo intends to go after "individuals who have attempted to negatively impact the e-mail experience for consumers across the Internet," said John Kremer, VP for Yahoo Mail.
"Through our continued litigation efforts, our top goal and priority is to further protect Yahoo Mail users and the public from this type of fraudulent activity," Kremer said.
Despite years of anti-spam efforts, the activity, which is used by marketers as well as criminals, remains a problem on the Web. Security experts say 80% to 95% of e-mail traveling across the Internet is spam.