By Jeff Lehr

Globe Staff Writer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri attorney general's office has forced the shutdown of a Joplin-based Web site that reportedly has been obtaining and selling private cell-phone records.

Attorney General Jay Nixon's office obtained a court order Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court that prohibits North American Information from obtaining personal information of wireless and land-line telephone customers in Missouri and selling it to others online.

A stipulation of assurance of voluntary compliance filed with the court states that North American Information was conducting business from the Web site in violation of state law. North American Information was the business name for North American Services, formerly at 111 W. Third St. in Joplin, according to the court document.

Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown approved the agreement.

The president of the company, Tom Doyle, signed the stipulation and assurance, which requires that the company cease obtaining cell-phone and land-line customer information and selling it. Under terms of the agreement with the state attorney general's office, Doyle agreed to pay $1,000 into a state merchandising practices fund.

Doyle could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The company is no longer operating at its Third Street address, and its listed telephone number has been disconnected.

Scott Holste, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said this is the fourth Internet company the attorney general's office has obtained court orders against this year for this type of illegal business practice.

Holste said such companies typically obtain cell-phone and land-line telephone records fraudulently by calling telephone companies and wireless providers and posing as customers. They then obtain those customers' records for the past month and sell that information to other companies, he said.

That type of information piracy has led to proposed legislation at both state and federal levels, and is the subject of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

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