Florida spammer faces $11bn fine

Florida spammer faces $11bn fine

Summary: A US ISP has been awarded billions of dollars after suing a spammer

TOPICS: Security

A US-based ISP has been awarded $11.2bn (£6.38bn) in a judgement against a Florida spammer who sent millions of unsolicited emails to its users.

The damages were awarded to CIS Internet Services, according to a the report by Associated Press.

Robert Kramer, the owner of CIS, filed a lawsuit against James McCalla and other defendants in 2003 claiming that more than 280 million spam email messages were sent to CIS email accounts. The emails advertised mortgages, debt consolidation services, pornographic and gambling Web sites.

The judgement, given by US District Judge Charles R. Wolle on 23 December, 2005, also prohibits McCalla from accessing the Internet for three years.

"I'm pleased with Judge Wolle's ruling," said Kramer. "It's a victory for every email user and every responsible ISP. It's proof our courts and Congress are committed to protecting the public."

"E-mail is an innovation like atomic energy or the automobile. In the beginning, the opportunity for misuse is obvious. For email, that's now changed," he said. "This ruling sets a new standard. Gross abusers of email risk exposure to public ridicule as well as the economic death penalty."

Antivirus company Sophos welcomed the size of the award against the spammer, even though there are doubts that Kramer will actually collect the money.

"This judgement against a spammer is undoubtedly the biggest we have ever heard of," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Spam is not just a nuisance for individual computer users who find their inboxes clogged up with unwanted mail, but for ISPs who are hit in the pocket by having to pay for the bandwidth to deliver and store hundreds of millions of messages."

Kramer previously won $1bn against Cash Link Systems of Florida, AMP Dollar Savings of Arizona, and TEI Marketing Group of Florida as part of the same suit.

Anti-spam legislation in the US began to bite late last year. Spammer Peter Moshou pleaded guilty in June to violating the US Can-Spam Act after EarthLink sued him in January. Moshou was jailed for a year and fined $120,000.

No such fines have been imposed in the UK. But late last year a businessman struck the first legal blow against spammers when he was awarded £270 damages from a Web marketing firm.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • YAY!!! That's totally awesome!
    It's about time the spammers get it right back in the face!!!
    All we need now is the same thing to happen a bunch more times, and for OTHER countries to follow suit.

    For every penny made on spam sent, spammers should lose 10 cents!

    Also, the jsutice system should go after the benefactors of the spam. (As in - the entities being advertised in the spam).
  • Amen to that award, even though it probably won't collect any of that money.
    As to going after the companies who have the ads being spammed. Wouldn't it be easy, then, for the spammers to screw some company by spamming "for" them.
  • Here in the US where it is still possible to impose the death penalty on human beings, it would be nice to finally be able to impose it on corrupt businesses and corporations.
  • They are the real "Terrorist" affecting Americans and Canadians lives everyday - spammers, hackers, i.d. thieves, hoaxers that disrupt emergency services... they should be incorporated into terrorist legislation in both countries and dealt with accordingly - It's only a matter of time before they shut down the Internet... people and the economy will suffer - why wait - lets get these f***en cowards! Tell your politician!
  • Excellent !! About time. Ought to add in confiscation of ALL personal assets.
  • Great! Now if we could only extend heavy fines and even jail terms to the idiots who make viruses, spyware, and other files that ruin the computers we've worked hard to pay for, we'd really be getting somewhere!
  • After receiving more than 2000 spam E-mails in the last 1-2 months, this is refreshing. Hang'em high and let'em squirm. Maybe then it will stop.
  • apes