A state judge ordered the shutdown on Wednesday of what Massachusetts authorities called one of the world's largest spam rings, generating millions of unsolicited e-mails monthly.
Attorney General Thomas Reilly's civil complaint against alleged ringleader Leo Kuvayev and six other people associated with 2K Services Ltd. and Ecash Pay Ltd. requested a restraining order, which was granted by Suffolk County Superior Judge Ralph D. Gants.
Reilly alleged the companies flood e-mail boxes with advertisements for illegal and dangerous products, such as counterfeit prescription drugs and pirated software, as well as advertisements for pornography.
The lawsuit alleges the spammers broke state consumer-protection laws, as well as a federal anti-spam law known as CAN-SPAM, and seeks restitution for anyone who lost money because of the operation, as well as fines, court costs and other relief.
Two phone numbers for Kuvayev and 2K Services in Canada were disconnected, and Kuvayev did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
The attorney general made the announcement with Brad Smith, a senior vice president of Microsoft Corp., which aided the investigation by capturing thousands of the spam messages and tracing their origins.
"Anyone who has a computer and uses the Internet has had to deal with these spam e-mails. At the very least they are a nuisance, a tremendous inconvenience and very disruptive to our economy," Reilly said. "But in this case these e-mails went well beyond a nuisance. There are also very serious public safety implications."
John Mozena, the co-founder and vice president of the anti-spam Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email, said the lawsuit may be effective in stopping this spam group.
"Will it have an effect on the overall total of spam people receive? No," he said. "These sorts of things might stop individuals, but they don't stop spam."