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8/29/2004
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Rhode Island Man Barred From Sending Junk Text Messages

A federal judge in New Jersey granted the injuction to Verizon Wireless, though the carrier did not get the $150,000 in damages it was seeking.

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 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 over the last several months to cell users in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. They advertised mortgage loans, products for losing weight, even adult Web sites.

Officials with Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon said 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 none were awarded.

Attempts to reach 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 against companies and individuals over 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 Ralsky from E-mailing Verizon Internet customers. The suit required 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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