AOL Plans To Award ‘Spoils’ of Spam War

UPDATED: America Online (AOL) will continue its high profile campaign against spam Tuesday when AOL Chairman and CEO Jon Miller unveils a sweepstakes program that will award assets seized from spammers to victims of e-mail scams and spam, the company said.

The grand prize? A 2002 Porsche Boxster S, officials said. The sports car was purchased from the proceeds in a lawsuit it settled with a spammer. The idea is that AOL members “driven to anger” will get a chance to drive off in a luxury sportscar, courtesy of a spammer’s gains from spamming.

AOL officials said the event will “highlight the value of reporting spam” to Internet service providers (ISPs). The settlement is the result of one of five lawsuits that AOL filed in federal court last year, which accused individuals and corporations of sending spam to the AOL network.

Randall Boe, AOL’s executive vice president and general counsel, said the company sees the latest move as a “great way to teach spammers a lesson, and reward our members for their continued use of the ‘Report Spam’ button.”

The sweepstake game started at 5:00 am this morning and is slated to end at 11:59 pm eastern time on April 8th. The rest of the rules are online at, but suffice to say, entries are connected to the use of AOL’s ‘Report Spam’ feature.

Earlier this month, AOL joined EarthLink , Microsoft and Yahoo! in filing six lawsuits in Virginia, California, Georgia and Washington State against hundreds of spammers. The civil complaints charge the defendants with sending a combined total of “hundreds of millions” of prohibited bulk spam to customers of the four networks.

According to company executives, the mountain of unsolicited e-mail contains deceptive solicitations for get-rich schemes, pornography, diploma mills, cable descramblers, mortgages and other common types of spam.

Under Virginia’s own anti-spam law, which went into effect almost a year ago, spammers living outside of the state can be charged even if none of the recipients live in Virginia as long as the e-mail was, at some point, routed through Virginia. More than half of the world’s e-mail flows through Virginia.

In December, with the help of AOL to build their case, Virginia authorities arrested and charged a North Carolina man with four felony counts of using deceptive routing information in sending bulk commercial e-mail. The indictments are the first felonies in the country to be levied against a spammer.

In addition to AOL’s efforts, EarthLink successfully pursued last year Howard Carmack, the notorious ‘Buffalo Spammer’ accused of sending more than 825 million unsolicited e-mails from illegal EarthLink accounts since early 2002.

In partnership with Microsoft, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in December announced a massive legal offensive against a spam network allegedly responsible for sending more than 250 million junk e-mails daily.

Spitzer filed a $20 million lawsuit against a New York-based spam ring allegedly led by Scott Richter, president of e-mail marketing firm, accusing the company of being part of a network that hijacked computers and used them as drone machines to send billions of illegal and deceptive spam messages.

In addition to Richter and, lawsuits were filed against New York-based Synergy6 Inc. and five others who allegedly assisted in the distribution of the spam messages. The lawsuits were filed under existing anti-fraud statutes and had nothing to do with the Can Spam Bill that was signed into law.

Microsoft has its own anti-spam suit to deal with. The company recently filed a separate suit against the same defendants seeking damages of $18.8 million. Additionally, the software giant filed five other lawsuits against alleged spammers, which Microsoft says used the same transmission route that Richter employed. Defendants in those suits include Delta7 Communications;;;; Teslianet; Nutriworx; and Jonathan Huang and Ann Le Dangtran doing business as AJ Imports, Enhance Institute and Epar.

The recently passed Can Spam Act provides new enforcement tools for ISPs and criminalizes specific tactics spammers use to spread junk e-mail. Under the new law, individuals are barred from suing spammers, but ISPs can file civil actions and state and federal authorities can follow with criminal complaints.

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