Yahoo is suing a group of unidentified companies and individuals loosely called the "Yahoo Lottery Spammers" for running email scams that sought victim's personal information and extorted money from purported winners.
Yahoo filed the suit in US District Court for the Southern District of New York on 16 May, court records show. Yahoo released a news announcement regarding the suit on Tuesday.
The lawsuit targets 25 unidentified companies and 25 unnamed individuals. Yahoo is trying to identify those responsible for the scams, which used third-party email providers such as Go Daddy and EarthLink, according to the suit.
How successful the suit will be is questionable. Tracking down spammers can be notoriously difficult. If the spammers are located outside the US, legal complications can arise.
Yahoo alleges the scammers used its trademarks in email notifying people that they'd won a lottery prize in either US dollars or British pounds. Some of the email requested that customers send money for security and delivery fees before receiving their prize, Yahoo said.
One of the sample fraudulent emails included in the lawsuit listed the "Yahoo International Lottery Organisation" as the awarding organisation, purportedly based in Bangkok.
Other variations of the emails included a link to a website bearing Yahoo's logos that asked victims to fill in their personal information, a scam known as phishing.
Yahoo, which is requesting a jury trial, is alleging federal trademark infringement, trademark deception and violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. Yahoo wants the companies and those responsible to forfeit their profits and pay damages, among other remedies.