An internet marketing agency will pay $900,000 - the largest penalty of its kind - to the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating the CAN-SPAM Act.
Jumpstart Technologies LLC, of San Francisco, illegally disguised commercial emails as personal messages, thereby misleading consumers as to the terms and conditions of promotions, according to the FTC.
Jumpstart also offered consumers free movie tickets in exchange for the contact information of five or more of their friends. The company would then send the new contacts emails with the recipient's email address and a seemingly personal invitation such as "Happy New Year" or "Movie time. Let's go" to circumvent spam filters, the FTC said.
"These defendants intentionally used personal messages as a cover-up for commercial messages," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Deceptive subject lines and headers not only violate the CAN-SPAM Act, but also consumer trust."