updated 4/13/2005 8:56:47 PM ET 2005-04-14T00:56:47

A federal judge ordered a Los Angeles company Wednesday to stop sending unsolicited e-mails the Federal Trade Commission and California's attorney general allege violate so-called anti-spamming regulations.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, at the urging of the government, directed Optin Global Inc. and its owner and president to refrain from sending bulk e-mails advertising mortgages, pharmaceutical products and online college degrees. The government said the e-mails are illegal because the messages allegedly are not marked as advertisements, they don't provide consumers with a method of getting off the distribution list and, among other things, they don't identify the sender.

John Chu, the attorney for Optin and its owner Rick Yang and president Peonie Pui Ting Chen, disputed the allegations in a hearing. "I don't think they've violated any law," Chu said. He added that his clients conduct "business in good faith."

According to the lawsuit alleging Optin is violating 2004 anti-spamming federal legislation, the FTC has received more than 1.8 million complaints from consumers regarding e-mails Optin allegedly distributed.

The company sells the information it obtains from consumers to other businesses, and those companies in turn contact the consumers offering their products and services.

The lawsuit also alleges that the e-mails dupe consumers into responding to the communications.

"In numerous instances, defendants initiate commercial e-mail messages that promote mortgage services with subject headings that deceptively suggest that the recipients have already submitted applications, have accounts, or have prior relationships with the sender," the lawsuit said.

Chu responded: "My clients are not responsible for generating the content of any of these messages."

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the lawsuit seeks up to $2,500 for every e-mail that violates the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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