RealTime IT News

AOL Wins Three Spam Suits, Files Nine More

America Online Inc. Monday announced it had won three lawsuits against junk e-mailers and filed nine new suits targeting porn-spammers, get-rich-quick schemers and sellers of spamming software.

In each of the victories, AOL said the court awarded "substantial monetary damages." And, for the first time in one case, the court applied federal and state computer fraud statutes, recognizing that existing computer fraud statutes apply to the transmission of falsified e-mail.

"These legal victories underscore the court's recognition that junk e-mail damages both our members and AOL," said Randall Boe, AOL's associate general counsel. "They also deliver a strong message: AOL will not tolerate junk e- mail on its network..."

In the winning cases: LCGM of Madison Heights, Mich., a spammer for pornographic Web sites, was ordered to pay damages and costs, including attorney's fees, for sending millions of pieces of junk e-mail to AOL members. LCGM was also ordered to cease transmission. The court ruled that LCGM, by employing methods and software designed to defeat AOL's spam filtering technologies, had committed fraud. The court therefore applied both state and federal computer fraud laws.

The court also ordered Prime Data of Bowling Green, KY and its principal operator Vernon Hale, to pay damages to AOL for the costs of handling millions of pieces of junk e-mail. The court also noted that the "malicious" nature of the defendant's conduct warranted punitive damages triple the amount of the actual damages.

In a previous ruling, a case against IMS in Knoxville, Tenn., yielded the first-ever judicial opinion finding that "AOL.com" forgery violates federal trademark statutes.

In bringing this case to a conclusion, the court ruled against IMS, its principal Joe Melle and two other spammers: Brian Robbins, a spammer advertising a dubious "credit repair" scheme and Neil Byron Goodson, a Louisiana-based seller of "Floodgate" spam software.

The court found each liable for actual damages and imposed triple punitive damages. The court also provided AOL with injunctive relief and barred the defendants from ever again sending e-mail to AOL or its members.

New lawsuits were brought against nine well-known spammers in five different states. The cases by state are: Virginia

Power Promo and Forrest Dayton, Marietta, Ga.: AOL has brought suit against Power Promo and Dayton not only for their prolific spamming activities, but also for their selling of the "Stealth" software program, which encourages and enables junk e-mailers to evade the technological blocks and filtering software AOL and others use to block spam. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Courtfor the Eastern District of Virginia

GreatDeals.Net, Reston, Va.: GreatDeals.Net is a seller of computer hardware. Despite having received a cease and desist request from AOL, GreatDeals.Net has continued to send junk e-mail to AOL members. AOL is seeking damages and an end to spam sent from GreatDeals.Net. Filed in the Fairfax, VA County Court

California

"Virtual Girlfriend" Spammer, Sunland and Tujunga, Calif.: This suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, targets a ring of spammers that defrauds consumers who attempt to purchase the advertised software package.

Michael Persaud, et. al., San Diego, Calif.: This suit alleges that Persaud, operating under the names J.Butterfield, Henry Summers and Brian Crawford, has sent millions of pieces of junk e-mail to AOL members despite a cease and desist request. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

USA Home Employment, Studio City, Calif.: USA Employment has been identified as a spammer of "get-rich-quick" envelope stuffing schemes. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Iowa

National Health Care Discounts, Inc., Sioux City, Ia.: The suit alleges that this corporation uses spammers to generate sales leads by deluging AOL members with messages promoting NHCD's health insurance products. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Western Division

Florida

Global Marketing Solutions Inc., Orange County, Fla.: This suit targets a spammer of junk e-mail and purveyor of "Guaranteed....$10,000 cash loan!" program. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida

First Class Advertising, Valusia and Orange County, Fla.: This suit targets a bulk e-mailer responsible for sending AOL members junk e-mail advertising the sale of "Beanie Babies" and bulk e-mail services. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida

New York

The Christian Brothers, Brooklyn, N.Y.: AOL alleges that this spammer has persistently used junk e-mail to advertise a "miracle cancer cure" (apricot seeds). Filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York