Microsoft sues to stop Windows Live Messenger spam

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Microsoft on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a Hong Kong company, alleging the business spammed and phished thousands of its customers over instant messenger (IM).

The action, filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, contends that Funmobile Ltd., which is operated by brothers Christian and Henrick Heilesen, sent "spim" to customers over the Windows Live Messenger platform, Microsoft officials said in a blog post.

The scheme, which started in March, involved sending users a link that appeared to come from a friend, said Tim Cranton, associate general counsel of internet safety enforcement at Microsoft, in the blog. If users clicked on the link, a page popped up requesting they enter their username and password to login to IM.

If they complied, victims then were directed to an adult website, Cranton said. Meanwhile, the fraudsters used the stolen credentials to access the IM accounts, where they bombarded those victims' contacts with similar unwanted messages.

"Such abuse of the Windows Live Messenger service harms Microsoft and our customers by burdening Microsoft's computers and computer systems with spim traffic, interfering with users' enjoyment of our services and invading the privacy of our users," he wrote. "Our customers should be in control of their information and shouldn't be provoked into divulging their personal account credentials for third-party services."

The lawsuit seeks to stop the defendants from spamming users and Microsoft said it is entitled to damages of $5,000 for each violation of the Washington state anti-phishing law, according to court documents.

An email sent to Funmobile seeking comment was not answered.
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