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Verizon Wireless clamps down on wireless spam

US mobile operator Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey, seeking an injunction against Passport Holidays of Ormond Beach, Fla., for allegedly violating federal and state laws by sending "tens of thousands" of unsolicited text messages to its customers.

The operator filed the suit in federal court in Trenton after more than 98,000 unsolicited short text messages were sent last month to Verizon Wireless customers on behalf of Passport Holidays, informing customers they supposedly had won a cruise to the Bahamas and asking them to call to claim their prize. Passport Holidays and other currently unknown individuals who are alleged to have assisted in sending out the spam are named as defendants in the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that Passport Holidays and others violated the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using "auto-dialing" equipment to send large bursts of text messages to sequential phone numbers within very short periods of time. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants used deceptive means to hide the identity of the party sending the spam messages and to avoid filters that Verizon Wireless employs to prevent spam from reaching its customers.

The court filing is the latest in a series consumer protection lawsuits filed by Verizon Wireless. Last year, the operator obtained an injunction against a Rhode Island spammer who had been sending numerous text message solicitations to its customers. This summer, the firm sued telemarketing firms based in Florida and California, forcing them to stop making illegal sales calls to wireless customers. The company also secured a court order halting a Tennessee-based company's illegal practice of using fraudulent means to obtain and sell confidential customer telephone records.

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