AOL highlighted its success fighting spammers through the courts with a contest to give away a sports car confiscated from an e-mailer.
The sweepstakes will award one AOL member with a 2002 Porsche Boxster S Cabriolet that the Internet service provider said it confiscated from a spammer in a spate of lawsuits it filed in federal court last April. Those cases were filed against five individuals AOL blamed for its members being bombarded with 1 billion messages hawking products like cut-rate mortgages and steroids. AOL said it took possession of the car in a settlement with one defendant, whom it declined to name.
AOL said the contest, open to its 24 million U.S. members, is a gesture of thanks for feeding AOL spam reports that it has used to prosecute unsolicited commercial e-mailers. AOL members report up to 10 million spam messages daily. The contest runs until April 9, and AOL plans to award the car about 10 days later. AOL received 350,000 entries in the contest's first day.
AOL has filed 28 lawsuits against more than 200 individuals and companies it accuses of spamming. This month it banded together with other ISPs to launch the first lawsuits under the federal CAN-SPAM Act. That law provides a number of financial penalties, including asset forfeiture.
“We have a track record in litigating against spammers that has resulted in millions of dollars in damages, court orders to stop them from spamming, and putting spammers in bankruptcy,” said Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman.
Graham said AOL has seen a decrease across the board in key spam indicators dating to mid-February. It attributed the decrease partly to its aggressive litigation against spammers.