Microsoft Corp. today praised Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist for filing a lawsuit against two men accused of sending illegal spam.

“Thanks to Attorney General Charlie Crist’s leadership, Florida has a tough anti-spam law to protect consumers, and it is working,” said Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Nancy Anderson. Anderson joined Attorney General Crist in Tampa for his announcement of the first anti-spam lawsuit under his state’s anti-spam law as well as the federal CAN-SPAM law.

The Florida attorney general’s office filed suit against Tampa residents Scott J. Filary, 25, and Donald E. Townsend, 34, accusing them of running a bogus e-mail and Internet operation responsible for sending more than 65,000 illegal spam messages during the past year. The alleged illegal spam linked recipients to more than 75 Web sites engaged in fraudulent or illegal business activities, including pharmaceutical and cigarette sales and the illegal downloading of copyrighted movies.

The action culminates a six-month investigation by the attorney general’s office and Microsoft into the defendants’ activity. Microsoft has worked with attorneys general across the country to combat spam, helping bring legal action against cybercriminals in Washington state, New York and Texas.

Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail® is the world’s largest Web-based e-mail service, with more than 200 million active accounts. According to Anderson, the company has set up more than 100,000 MSN Hotmail “trap” accounts—open e-mail accounts that the company monitors but does not send e-mail from—to capture spam, many of which contain links to phishing scams.

Microsoft’s anti-spam team began discussing the case with the Florida attorney general’s office in November 2004.

“We’re convinced that strong actions like those being taken today by the Florida attorney general will help make illegal spam a thing of the past,” Anderson said. “We’re happy to help and delighted this strong action is being taken to protect consumers.”

Anderson said Microsoft is determined to do everything it can—working with law enforcement agencies, crafting innovative software solutions and working with industry groups—to combat spam.