MySpace has won a landmark victory against spammers Sanford Wallace
and Walter Rines.
Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have applauded
a legal judgment that has awarded MySpace a record payment of $234
million from spammers who bombarded its users with junk emails.
The payout, the largest ever under the CAN-SPAM Act, means that
Sanford "Spamford" Wallace and his business partner Walter Rines
are obliged to refund the social networking website for the cost of
handling over 700,000 junk messages, and complaints it received
from its users.
The duo created MySpace accounts and stole passwords through
phishing to comandeer existing ones to send their spam messages.
The spammers made money through advertising and selling of goods
such as ringtones.
"The judgment against the spammers is astronomical, because
under the terms of the CAN-SPAM law each spam message entitles
MySpace to $100 in damages. That triples when the spam is sent
'willfully and knowingly'. In the war against spam it is right that
large companies suffering should have a heavy stick like this to
hit the spammers with," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "What is galling, however, is
that these two spammers are just the tip of an iceberg. Even if
MySpace were to extricate the fine from these two men - which seems
unlikely given their past record - there will be plenty more
cybercriminals trying to make money from junk email."
MySpace told the LA District Court judge Audrey B Collins that
some of the spam distributed by Wallace and Rines - much of it sent
to teenagers - included links to third party websites containing
Judge Collins also issued injunctions against Wallace and Rines
barring them from similar activities in the future. Wallace and
Rines failed to attend the court hearing.
Sophos notes that this is not the first time that Sanford
Wallace has been on the receiving end of legal activity for his
cybercriminal activities. In the 1990s, CompuServe and AOL sued
Wallace for sending millions of junk emails, and in 2006 he was
million for installing spyware onto innocent users'
"It would be great to think that this is the last we will see of
'Spamford' Wallace's internet activities, but I don't have much
hope that even with this colossal fine he will be able to resist
abusing innocent net users again," continued Cluley. "The simple
fact is that spam works. Until people pledge
not to click on links in unsolicited emails and never to buy goods
sold via spam, there will still be lowlives like Wallace and Rines
trying to fill our inboxes."
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend
against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.