Facebook Wins $711M in ‘Spam King’ Lawsuit

Facebook and Spam

Facebook last month was awarded $711.2 million in damages last month by a Northern California judge who found that self-proclaimed “Spam King” Sanford Wallace violated the Federal Trade Commission’s Can-Spam Act.

The default judgment, issued on Sept. 18 in a U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., found that Wallace “willfully violated” a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction issued in the case and referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution of criminal contempt.

Facebook originally filed this latest lawsuit against Sanford in February, alleging his spamming operation accessed Facebook accounts without users’ permission to send bogus e-mails and posts to the users’ public message walls.

“The record demonstrates that Wallace willfully violated the statutes in question with blatant disregard for the rights of Facebook and the thousands of Facebook users whose accounts were compromised by his conduct,” Fogel wrote in his judgment order.

The order also permanently prohibits Wallace from accessing the Facebook Web site or creating a Facebook account, among other restrictions.

Wallace, who has been the subject of multiple lawsuits filed by companies and the FTC since the 1990s, and another defendant were ordered to pay MySpace $234 million in another default judgment issued in May 2008.

Facebook is no stranger to aggressive, illegal spamming and phishing attacks. In November 2008, a federal judge also in San Jose, Calif. ordered Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital to pay more than $873 million in damages.

While the onslaught of spam scams will undoubtedly continue, Facebook hopes this latest judgment will deter others from following suit.

“We’re very pleased with this significant judgment, the second largest in history for an action brought under Can-Spam,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.” We’re confident that the ruling will act as a powerful deterrent against those who would abuse Facebook and its users, especially since the judge also referred Wallace for prosecution for criminal contempt of court, which means that he now faces possible jail time.”

Attempts to contact Wallace and his attorney for comment were not immediately successful.

Wallace earned the nicknames “Spamford” and “Spam King” for his past role as head of CyberPromotions, a company responsible for sending as many as 30 million junk e-mails a day in the 1990s.

In May 2006, Wallace and his company Smartbot.net were ordered by a federal court to turn over $4.1 million.

“This ruling is the result of tireless effort by our legal and security teams, which work to find, expose, and prosecute the sources of spam attacks,” Facebook added in its statement. “These efforts complement the sophisticated technical systems we continue to develop to limit the impact of these attacks, and where possible, block them altogether.”

Facebook claims to have more than 300 million registered users and more than half of those active users log onto their accounts everyday.

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