MySpace Wins $230 Million in Spam Case

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge granted social networking site MySpace a $230 million anti-spam award on Tuesday.


According to the Associated Press, the Los Angeles-based judge ruled against Sanford "Spam King" Wallace and his partner Walter Rines after the pair failed to appear at a court hearing on the matter.


The judgment is believed to be the largest anti-spam award ever.


MySpace filed suit against Rines and Wallace, also known as "Spamford," for sending junk messages to the site's members.


Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, told the Associated Press that Rines and Wallace created accounts or took over existing ones by stealing passwords through "phishing" scams. The pair then emailed MySpace members, "asking them to check out a cool video or another cool site," Nigam said.


"When you (got) there, they were making money trying to sell you something or making money based on hits or trying to sell ringtones," he said.

In the suit, MySpace claimed Rines and Wallace sent more than 730,000 messages to MySpace members. The company said the spam resulted in bandwidth costs and complaints from hundreds of members.


Court documents show the company also claimed some of the outside websites contained adult material that could have been viewed by teenagers.


Under the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, each violation allows MySpace to ask for $100 in damages and triple that number in cases in which the messages were sent "willfully and knowingly."


MySpace representatives said they considered the award amount a "landmark," but John Levine, a board member for the anti-spam advocacy group Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email, said he would be surprised if the money were ever collected.


Wallace and Rines headed up Cyber Promotions, a company that sent as many as 30 million junk email messages a day in the 1990s, the Associated Press reported. Wallace left the company following lawsuits filed by AOL, but he made headlines again in 2006 when a federal judge awarded a $4 million judgment against him in 2006 in a spyware case.