The Federal Trade Commission has asked a U.S. district court judge to shut down an operation that used illegal spam to make deceptive claims about an "automotive fuel saver" that doesn't save fuel.

The FTC charges that the spam violates the CAN-SPAM Act and the deceptive claims violate the FTC Act. The agency will ask the court to permanently bar the law violations and order the defendants to provide redress for consumers.

An FTC complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleges that International Research and Development Corporation manufactures and markets a "magnetic device" under the names FuelMAX and Super FuelMAX. The company claims that when the device is attached to an automobile's fuel line, it will fracture gasoline hydrocarbon chains through magnetic resonance and:

• Increase mileage by up to 27%;
• Reduce Fuel Consumption;
• Reduce Emissions;
• Provide Accelerated Combustion; and
• Burn Fuel That is Normally Exhausted as Un-burned Pollution.

In November 2001, the FTC issued a warning that these product claims and advertising were false, lacked substantiation, and likely violated the FTC Act.

Other defendants, acting as Super FuelMAX resellers, set up Web sites, including to sell the magnetic devices under the pseudonym Fuel Saver Pro. The Web sites made claims such as:

• Increase gas mileage 27%+ by helping fuel burn better;
• Reduce emissions by 43%;
• Smoother engine;
• pays for itself FAST!!!!
• Gives an extra 10% more horsepower; and
• Based on the size of your gas tank you will save from $8 for a typical 15-gallon gas tank, but larger V8 SUVs and trucks will save up to $20 per tank.

The defendant resellers used spam that made deceptive claims to drive traffic to their Web sites. According to the FTC, the spam contained the names of innocent third parties in the "from" or "reply to" fields - a practice known as spoofing - and did not contain a valid physical postal address.

The FTC alleges that the magnetic "fuel saver" doesn't save fuel, doesn't increase gas mileage, and doesn't reduce emissions. According to the complaint, the claims are false and misleading and violate the FTC Act.

The agency also alleges that by providing promotional materials with the false claims to distributors, resellers, and affiliates, the defendants have provided them with the means and instrumentalities to violate the FTC Act. The agency also alleges that the spoofing and failure to provide a valid physical postal address violate the CAN-SPAM Act.

The FTC charges that consumers throughout the country have suffered substantial monetary loss and the defendants have been unjustly enriched. It has asked the court to halt the deceptive claims, bar future violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, and order redress for consumers.

The FTC's complaint names International Research and Development Corporation of Nevada; Anthony Renda; Net Marketing Group, LLC; Micro System Technologies; Floyd J. Tassin, Jr; Marcia Tassin; Diverse Marketing Group, Inc.; Diverse Marketing Group, LLC; Mark C. Ayoub; and Epro2000, Inc. as defendants.