Wednesday, August 10, 2005


A few months ago I read a book called Spam Kings, chronicling the history of spammers and the people who've waged war against them. So when I read this article in USA Today, I recognized some of the names.
America Online and Microsoft are hitting spammers where it hurts most: They are confiscating their assets and giving them away.

AOL, the world's largest Internet service provider, is awarding $20,000 in gold bars, a 2003 Hummer H2 and $75,000 in cash it seized from a major spammer as part of a legal settlement last year. It will hold a sweepstakes on its Web site starting Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Microsoft on Tuesday said Scott Richter, once considered one of the world's top spammers, and his company,, agreed to pay $7 million under a legal settlement. Microsoft is donating $1 million to a New York program to provide computer gear to community centers. It will spend $5 million more on anti-spam efforts.

"We think it's justice," says Curtis Lu, AOL deputy general counsel. "We're taking the ill-gotten bounty these spammers have earned off the backs of our customers and handing it back to customers."

What a load of crap.

AOL isn't "handing it back to customers." They're using this as a marketing ploy, attempting to lure in even more suckers to their net with the hopes of winning a raffle.

Now, I realize that with 24 million U.S. subscribers, AOL would only be able to refund each person's bill by about a half-cent based on the spam assets they acquired. So doing that isn't really practical, but their chosen route is sleazy.

Microsoft, though, is donating their winnings to charity. Kudos to Microsoft.

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