AOL Gives Spam Booty to Members

America Online (AOL) said it will raffle some $100,000 worth of gold bars, cash and a fully-loaded sport utility vehicle seized from a major spammer.

The company planned the 10-day-long give-away as a reward for members who helped bring down an infamous spammer who at his peak prompted 10,000 complaints a day.

“Today, we’re putting the brakes on spammers and celebrating our gold standard spam protections for the AOL service and the AIM Mail product at,” Jon Miller, AOL’s Chairman and CEO, said in a statement. ”Our hard work in fighting spam is paying off in another way as well – since November 2003 when spam was at its peak, we’ve achieved a dramatic and hugely beneficial decline in the amount of spam reaching our members’ e-mail boxes.”

The “AOL Spammer’s Gold Sweepstakes,” which starts today, is the byproduct of the AOL suing a New Hampshire junk mailer using the CAN-SPAM Act. All the items were seized as part of the first lawsuit filed by AOL under the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. AOL was aided by members who used the “Report Spam” button.

The company will also donate tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end computer equipment seized from this spammer to public schools in Northern Virginia, a spokesperson said.

The gold bullion to be given away is comprised of 33 gold bars, each weighing one ounce, and nine gold coins. The gold is valued at nearly $20,000, and there is an additional $75,000 in cash. The SUV is a 2003 Hummer H2.

The sweepstakes coincides with the company’s announcement that spam is down more than 85 percent on the service and AOL’s anti-spam filters are blocking more than 1.4 billion pieces of spam daily.

In addition to these assets, AOL has also obtained a $13 million judgment in the case against the remaining members of the spam gang.

The company attributes its success to its multi-pronged approach in fighting spam, which includes software tools, filtering technology, public policy, litigation and enforcement and industry partnerships.

The tide appeared to be turning in the fight to stem the flow of spam this week as Microsoft came to an agreement with Scott Richter, one-time spam king and now legitimate e-mail marketer.

In the out-of-court settlement with Microsoft, Richter agreed to pay Microsoft $7 million of the $18.8 million in damages it sought nearly two years ago.

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