Nevada company targeted by Minnesota officials over fax blitz

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Attorney General's Office says it will seek a permanent injunction against a Nevada company that allegedly sent thousands of unsolicited faxes to offices in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The attorney general's office obtained a preliminary injunction against Sunbelt Communications and Marketing of Carson City, Nev., in September after receiving more than 100 complaints.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the federal ban on unsolicited fax ads on March 21, overturning a Missouri district court decision that the law was unconstitutional. Based on that decision, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office plans to seek a permanent injunction.

According to court records, Sunbelt leased office space in Minneapolis, acquired fax machines and began advertising its services to businesses. The company estimated it had the numbers of 183,000 fax machines in the Twin Cities area that businesses could pay to send faxes in bundles of 10,000, 20,000 and 40,000.

"We went after the bad apple, the primary purveyor of the fraud," said Prentiss Cox, an assistant state attorney general and manager of the consumer enforcement division. "Sunbelt is the one that sold the scheme to them and should have known ... that this is illegal activity."

The federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prohibits the use of fax machines to send unsolicited ads and allows recipients to sue for $500 to $1,500 per unsolicited fax. Minnesota law says any unsolicited fax has to contain a toll-free telephone number to call and an address people can write to if they want to be removed from the fax list.


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