- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A judge granted Verizon Wireless a permanent injunction against a Rhode Island man accused of sending millions of unsolicited text-message advertisements to cell phone customers in four states.

The injunction Friday in federal court in Trenton, N.J., bans Jacob Brown from sending any more “spam” text messages. Verizon sued Mr. Brown in June after identifying him as the leader of a ring that sent the messages.

“The ruling shows this won’t be tolerated,” said Steve Zipperstein, an attorney for Verizon. “It’s annoying in your car, in your house, when you’re out, to get messages that you don’t want.”

The messages were sent in the past several months to cell users in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They advertised mortgage loans, products for losing weight and adult Web sites.

Officials with Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon said Mr. Brown and his cohorts sent bulk text messages to cell phones by disguising their identities and using an automatic telephone dialing system.

Verizon had sought at least $150,000 in damages, but nothing was awarded.

Attempts to reach Mr. Brown, whose last address was listed in Pawtucket, R.I., were unsuccessful. He did not appear at the hearing last week in which the injunction was granted.

Internet service providers have won dozens of spam-related lawsuits in the past few years.

Two years ago, Verizon Communications settled a spam lawsuit against Alan Ralsky and his Michigan-based company, Additional Benefits LLC, that prevented Mr. Ralsky from e-mailing Verizon Internet customers. The lawsuit required Mr. Ralsky to pay unspecified damages.

Companies also are making it easier for customers to report an unsolicited text message. If they get one, they can forward it, at no cost, to their provider.

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