EarthLink Wins $16.4M in Spam Case

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EarthLink was awarded $16.4 million in damages this week by a federal judge as well as a permanent injunction against a Buffalo, NY-based junk e-mail sender, according to the Associated Press.


Howard Carmack was identified in the AP report as the "leader of a ring" that used EarthLink to send 825 million pieces of unsolicited e-mail in the past year. He is prohibited from sending such e-mail or helping others do so.


EarthLink claimed Carmack and others used Internet accounts opened with stolen identities and credit card numbers. Mary Youngblood, EarthLink's chief investigator, said the award is not the largest it has received against spammers. Last year it won $25 million resulting from a case against Kahn C. Smith of Tennessee. She said the company hasn't collected that award.


Youngblood said Carmack used fake e-mail addresses that he changed every few days to throw off investigators. The AP reported that Carmack's spam included offers for herbal Viagra, weight-loss products and get-rich schemes, "one of which was 'hire me to spam for you,'" Youngblood said.


In other news, The New York Times reported yesterday that a Silicon Valley startup is suing EarthLink, claiming that its latest technology to block spam violates two of its patents.


MailBlocks, the Times reported, "introduced an e-mail service in March that shows users mail only from senders whom they approve or who can show that they are people and not automated senders." MailBlocks, Los Altos, CA, has two patents regarding the way it verifies senders, a technology identified as "challenge response."


According to the report, EarthLink will provide its customers with a free challenge-response system, SpamBlocker, at the end of the month.


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