A California woman alleges in a proposed class action that she received at least four unsolicited spam emails from the companies that operate AshleyMadison.com.
According to the lawsuit, defendants Ruby Corp., Ruby Life Inc., and ADL Media Inc., which operate dating websites such as AshleyMadison.com, CougarLife.com, and EstablishedMen.com, violated California law by sending emails that contained “materially false and deceptive information” in email headers. Specifically, the case alleges the spam emails used “falsified, misrepresented, or forged” third-party domain names to mislead recipients as to the sender’s identity.
The plaintiff says she received emails that seemingly came from firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, the owners of which she suspects never provided the defendants with permission to use their domain names. According to the case, the use of recognizable domain names as part of the sender email address was intended either to mislead recipients into thinking “legitimate advertisers” have endorsed the defendants’ dating website or to trick recipients and their email filters as to the source of the emails.
To further mislead email recipients, the defendants allegedly used a generic “From Name,” such as “SecretAffair,” “AM Promotions,” “Ashley,” and “Jillian,” that the case says was meant to hinder consumers’ ability to discover and trace the sender’s identity. The body of the emails, according to the suit, contained no further information that could be used to identify the sender.
Lastly, the lawsuit takes issue with what the plaintiff claims were false and misleading subject lines that misrepresented the content of the spam emails. Content included in the emails’ subject lines, according to the suit, included, “Talk to bored women who want to meet!”; “send me a message if u want to hangout…”; and “You have been given something special.”
The lawsuit contends that these subject lines, written in the first person, can mislead recipients into thinking the emails were sent by an actual person, or were sent in response to a solicitation or contained a special promotional gift or offer “when they are nothing but commercial advertisements sent by Defendant and/or its marketing affiliates.”
The case claims the alleged misrepresentations in the defendants’ marketing emails were not merely an oversight but were, by design, intended to deceive recipients into visiting AshleyMadison.com. From the complaint:
“Forged Sender E-mail Addresses do not write themselves. The false and misrepresented information contained in and accompanying the e-mail headers are not ‘clerical errors.’ Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendant and/or Defendant's affiliates and/or Defendant's marketing agents went to great lengths to create falsified and misrepresented information contained in and accompanying the e-mail headers in order to materially deceive recipients, Internet Service Providers, and spam filters.”
Initially filed in San Diego County Superior Court, the case, which alleges violations of California’s Business & Professions Code, has been removed to the state’s Southern District.