updated 9/28/2004 9:26:03 PM ET 2004-09-29T01:26:03

Amazon.com has filed three lawsuits in King County Superior Court against unidentified defendants who allegedly forged e-mails and Web sites to fool consumers into thinking they are doing business with the Internet retailer.

The lawsuits allege the unnamed defendants used the company's trademark "to trade on the fame and goodwill associated with the Amazon.com mark," to deceive Amazon customers into providing personal information.

Amazon alleges the defendants used two illegal e-mail practices: spoofing and phishing. Spoofing involves forging e-mail to make it look like it came from another company. Phishing uses similar tactics to steal credit card and other financial information from its victims by making the e-mail recipient think he is responding to a legitimate inquiry from a company he trusts. The e-mails link the consumer to forged Web sites.

The lawsuits are the latest since federal anti-spam legislation went into effect Jan. 1. Leading Internet companies have sued hundreds of people accused of violating it.

Also on Monday, Amazon filed a joint anti-spam lawsuit with Microsoft Corp. accusing Gold Disk Canada, Inc., of Kitchener, Ontario, and co-defendants Barry, Eric and Matthew Head of misleading and defrauding consumers worldwide. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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