Overstock.com Claims Couple Stole E-mail Addresses

Overstock.com Claims Couple Stole E-mail Addresses

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Overstock.com has sued an employee and her husband, claiming they stole and sold more than 3 million e-mail addresses from the company's customer lists.

The Salt Lake City-based company, which sells other companies' excess inventories at discounted prices over the Internet, said the addresses were sold to companies who send unsolicited advertising e-mails.

The suit, filed in 3rd District Court Friday, also says customer credit card or other personal financial information may have been stolen.

The suit names employee Rachelle Knight and her husband, former employee Jeffrey Knight.

The suit claims other employees discovered that the Knights had accessed the company's secure computer network via remote access early this fall.

In recent weeks, Overstock.com has received "a significantly increased" number of patron complaints about junk e-mail, the suit said.

Many of the patrons had set up separate e-mail accounts exclusively for Overstock.com use and were able to identify the company's customer information bank as the source of the leak to advertisers, the suit said.

Overstock.com's privacy policy assures site users their personal information will not be given to anyone other than Overstock.com, its partners and its affiliates.

The suit alleges, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy and breach of contract for violation of employee agreements not to share trade secrets.

It seeks any profits gained with the e-mail information and unspecified additional compensation, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and interest.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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