Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines created accounts with MySpace and used phishing scams to steal the usernames and passwords for other users’ accounts. They then used the accounts to send spam to thousands of people. In total the two send 735,925 messages and comments containing links to website’s touting products or websites that garner cash from hits. MySpace claims that some of the links also led to pornographic material.
Neither Wallace or Rines showed up to court for the ruling, which is hardly surprising given the fact that the pair have already anti-spam judgements against them from the likes of AOL. Wallace was an established spammer in the nineties when he was head of a company called Cyber Promotions. During that time he allegedly sent 30 million junk emails per day earning him the title “the Spam King”. The exact whereabouts of the pair is not known but last listed addresses show Wallace living in Las Vegas and Rines in New Hampshire.
MySpace claims sending the junk mail cost it money and bandwidth. Not only that but it resulted in hundreds of complaints from users who had had their accounts phished by the pair.
The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act allows MySpace to collect $100 per violation or triple that amount when the spam is sent "willfully and knowingly". US District Judge Audrey Collins ordered a fine of $160.4m to be paid for violations of CAN-SPAM. Rines was fined an additional $63.4m and on top of that, the pair was fined $1.5m for violations of California’s anti-phishing law and has to pay $4.7m in legal fees.
While the sketchy details on the location of these two mean the chances of MySpace ever collecting its cash are pretty poor, the News Corp owned site hopes it will make potential scammers think twice before targeting MySpace or its users.