When hundreds of Illinois residents received text messages asking them to sell their timeshare properties, they were at first puzzled. But their puzzlement quickly turned to anger when they realized their cell phone providers were charging them a fee for receiving the unsolicited messages.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan stepped in on Jan. 22 and filed suit against C & C Global Enterprises and others, accusing them of sending millions of unsolicited commercial messages.

“The defendants have attempted to illegally shift their advertising costs to consumers by making the consumers pay to receive ads,” Madigan said. “This conduct is particularly egregious because consumers have no way to avoid these costs.”

According to the AG’s office, the Attorney Consumer Protection Division received 66 written complaints and 190 complaints by phone from Illinois residents. Cingular Wireless filed a similar suit in Georgia, accusing the same defendants of deceptive practices as well as interfering with Cingular’s spam filters.

Madigan’s lawsuit seeks an injunction and $50,000 in civil penalties.