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Web marketer ordered to pay Facebook $711M damages

October 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Facebook said Thursday a California court has awarded the social networking Web site $711 million in damages in an anti-spam case against Internet marketer Sanford Wallace.

Facebook sued Wallace for accessing users’ accounts without their permission and sending phony posts and messages. The company said on its blog that in addition to the damage award, the San Jose, Calif., court referred Wallace to the U.S. Attorney’s office for prosecution for criminal contempt of court – meaning he could face jail time.

Wallace earned the monikers “Spam King” and “Spamford” as head of a company that sent as many as 30 million junk e-mails a day in the 1990s.

In May 2008, the online hangout MySpace won a $230 million judgment over junk messages sent to its members when a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled against Wallace and his partner, Walter Rines, in another case brought under the federal anti-spam law known as CAN-SPAM. In 2006, Wallace was fined $4 million after the Federal Trade Commission accused him of running an operation that infected computers with software that caused flurries of pop-up ads, known as “spyware.”

“While we don’t expect to receive the vast majority of the award, we hope that this will act as a continued deterrent against these criminals,” said Sam O’Rourke, associate general counsel for Facebook, in a blog posting Thursday. “This is another important victory in our fight against spam.”

There was no phone number listed for Wallace in Las Vegas, where he is believed to be living, according to the ruling.

The company said the judgment marks the second-largest anti-spam award ever. In November 2008, Facebook won an $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez and his business, Atlantis Blue Capital, who bombarded users with sexually explicit spam messages.

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