Yahoo files lawsuit against lottery scammers

'Yahoo Lottery Spammers' sought victim's personal information and extorted money from purported lottery winners

Yahoo is suing a group of unidentified companies and individuals loosely called the "Yahoo Lottery Spammers" for running e-mail scams that sought victim's personal information and extorted money from purported winners.

Yahoo filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 16, court records show. Yahoo released a news announcement regarding the suit on Tuesday.

The lawsuit targets 25 unidentified companies and 25 unnamed individuals. Yahoo is trying to identify those responsible for the scams, which used third-party e-mail providers such as Go Daddy and EarthLink, according to the suit.

How successful the suit will be is questionable. Tracking down spammers can be notoriously difficult. If the spammers are located outside the U.S., legal complications can arise.

Yahoo alleges the scammers used its trademarks in e-mail notifying people that they'd won a lottery prize in either U.S. dollars or British pounds. Some of the e-mail requested that customers send money for security and delivery fees before receiving their prize, Yahoo said.

One of the sample fraudulent e-mails included in the lawsuit listed the "Yahoo International Lottery Organization" as the awarding organization, purportedly based in Bangkok.

Other variations of the e-mails included a link to a Web site bearing Yahoo's logos that asked victims to fill in their personal information, a scam known as phishing.

Yahoo, which is requesting a jury trial, is alleging federal trademark infringement, trademark deception and violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. Yahoo wants the companies and those responsible to forfeit their profits and pay damages, among other remedies.

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