Accused spammer Sanford Wallace has been sued… again. And he has had a major judgment made against him… again. This time, it’s to the tune of $230 million.
From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) – A notorious "Spam King" and his partner now owe MySpace about $230 million in damages after a federal judge awarded the popular online hangout what is believed to be the largest anti-spam judgment ever.
The judgment is a big victory for MySpace, although service providers often have a tough time collecting such awards. But even if the News Corp owned site never collects, it hopes the judgment deters other spammers.
"Anybody who’s been thinking about engaging in spam are going to say, ‘Wow, I better not go there,’" MySpace’s chief security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Spammers don’t want to be prosecuted. They are there to make money. It’s our job to send a message to stop them."
Nigam told the AP that Wallace and Rines created their own MySpace accounts or took over existing ones by stealing passwords through "phishing" scams.
They then e-mailed other MySpace members, he said, "asking them to check out a cool video or another cool site. When you (got) there, they were making money trying to sell you something or making money based on hits or trying to sell ring tones."
MySpace said the pair sent more than 730,000 messages to MySpace members, many made to look like they were coming from trusted friends, giving them an air of legitimacy. Under the 2003 federal anti-spam law known as CAN-SPAM, each violation entitles MySpace to $100 in damages, tripled when conducted "willfully and knowingly."
Another spammer gets sued, but it’s questionable whether or not this will have any sort of deterrent in the spam community. MySpace will have to attempt to collect payment on this guy to actually shut him down. In addition, while breaking into MySpace and stealing passwords is illegal, many other spammers simply use botnets to deliver their payload of spam. In other words, they spam the internet by using means that are much more difficult to track down.
Still, if you are a spammer and start to get a reputation as being a big-time spammer, you are painting a target on your back. Eventually, a bigger fish (like Microsoft or News Corp) will come and eat you. Then the rest of us who fight spam will get to enjoy a little schaudenfreude.