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MySpace Wins $230 Million Judgment Against Sanford Wallace 160

smooth wombat writes "Apparently some people just don't take the hint. The latest story in the Sanford Wallace spamming saga is a $230 million verdict against Wallace and his partner, Walter Rines, when they failed to show up in court. Wallace and Rines were accused by MySpace of creating their own accounts and taking over other accounts through phishing scams, and then using those accounts to send out bogus emails to other members. The emails sent would indicate a video or web site but when people would go to the link, the two would make money through the number of hits generated or they would try to sell something such as ring tones. According to MySpace, the pair sent over 730,000 emails to members which resulted in bandwidth and delivery-related costs as well as complaints from hundreds of members. The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act allows MySpace to collect $100 per violation or triple that amount when the spam is sent 'willfully and knowingly.'"
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MySpace Wins $230 Million Judgment Against Sanford Wallace

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  • by MrMickS ( 568778 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:02AM (#23403312) Homepage Journal
    Now all they have to do is find him to serve the order.
  • 1) Good luck Collecting

    2) Spammers get nailed ... Good

    3) MySpace wins ... is this good?

    Just my initial thoughts.
  • I hate spammers and MySpace alike, so I'm not sure what to think about this ruling.
    • Re:Aw, crap. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aadvancedGIR ( 959466 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:20AM (#23403552)
      "I hate spammers and MySpace alike, so I'm not sure what to think about this ruling."

      Don't worry, with only 730k mails, those guy probably made at most 5 grands, so there won't be much to collect, probably not enough to cover MySpace's fees. But the message is "get caught spamming and we'll make sure you'll have to file for bankrupcy", which is good because most of these guys are only interested in easy cash, so they'll think twice before risking their house.
      • That would be cool, forgiven debt counts as income. You have to remember it was the IRS that put Capone in prison not the FBI!
      • But the message is "get caught spamming and we'll make sure you'll have to file for bankrupcy",

        This is a court judgment. You can't get rid of it that way. If you could, everybody who lost a case would declare bankruptcy and get out of it, making it pointless to sue.

    • Re:Aw, crap. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#23403602) Homepage

      I hate spammers and MySpace alike, so I'm not sure what to think about this ruling.
      What's the problem with MySpace? It's trivially easy to ignore and it gives a lot of people that I don't feel like interacting with a place to interact with each-other. I just wish that there was a real-world version where all of the MySpace users could voluntarily commit themselves and withdraw from the rest of the world.

      Spammers, however, reach out and touch me in ways I don't like to be touched. Kill 'em with fire.
      • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:38AM (#23403836) Homepage Journal

        I just wish that there was a real-world version where all of the MySpace users could voluntarily commit themselves and withdraw from the rest of the world.

        cf. "the mall"
      • A friend of mine wrote a comedy sketch [youtube.com] with that concept in mind.
      • I'm sure they feel the same about the Slashdot crowd.
    • Friend or foe? This could get really interesting. Is it possible for a spammer to hurt myspace enough you'd pardon him for spamming? Is it possible for myspace to hurt spammers enough that you don't mind that it's myspace who's doing it? Personally I think spammers hurt society in general and me in particular more than any one website could and am curious what your situation might be that you've got such a vendetta against myspace.

  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:05AM (#23403356) Homepage Journal
    The biggest surprise in the story is totally off-topic... I thought excite.com (the story link) was long dead. I guess it's been reborn as a handy way to wrap ads around Associated Press stories, but I still remember when they were in the running for King of Search. Now, I can't remember why I stopped using them, but the reason probably starts with G.
    • by youthoftoday ( 975074 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:15AM (#23403490) Homepage Journal
      Forgot that thing beginning with G? A good place to start looking is http://www.google.com/ [google.com] , you can find most things there if you remember a few details.
    • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:43AM (#23403930)
      In the late 90's, I got pulled into a VP's office, because someone in our building had accessed an "inappropriate" web page during our late night shift in a wafer fab. I pointed out that I don't have access to the area where the offices are (I was a clean room tech back then), and asked if they looked to see who had entered the area with their electronic key. Then I asked what website they had visited. They looked at the stack of papers and said, "Excite.com".. I laughed and asked if they had ever looked at the site. (they hadn't) Maybe thats why I am so deadset against filtering now!
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:58AM (#23404220)

      I thought excite.com (the story link) was long dead.

      That's OK. We all thought Sanford "Spamford" Wallace [wikipedia.org] and Walt "Picklejar" Rines were out of business as of ten years ago [news.com]. Those two motherfuckers (and I already have lawyers from the Oedipus Complex Anti-Defamation Leage calling on line one for my slur against people who fuck their mothers) have been spamming in one form or another since before excite.com even started. Here's a snapshot [keithlynch.net] of the spam wars, circa 2001. Look

      Walt Rines' nickname of Pickle Jar [google.com] comes from news.admin.net-abuse.email, and he was dubbed thusly by one of the Elder Gods of Spamfighting, the immortal Bill Mattocks. The USENET thread to which I just linked was the one in which what had been widely known for some time was finally proven -- that every time a spammer says he's going to "remove you from his list", he's lying. (Following the FTC hearings, most of the major spammers of the day, including Spamford and Pickle Jar, were touting a "universal remove list" as the solution -- unbeknownst to the spammers, the list was seeded with never-used email addresses, and unsurprisingly, those never-used email addresses immediately started receiving spam.)

      • That's OK. We all thought Sanford "Spamford" Wallace [wikipedia.org] and Walt "Picklejar" Rines were out of business as of ten years ago.

        I didn't.

        He moved to spyware and got caught by the feds back in 2004. I don't believe he's ever left the spam business, he's just expanded into other bullshiat and started working a bit more at hiding.

        He'll spam until he dies or they throw him in prison.

    • Hell, altavista is what pulled me away from excite.com.
    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )
      My reason begins with B... (as in Bankruptcy - I used to work for @Home until they were dragged to their doom by the dual Excite / Blue Mountain boat anchors)

      Funny thing is that I can guarantee when Infospace bought the corpse they did at least migrate over not only people's email but all of their custom user/portal settings. Why? I just went back to "excite.com" after I don't know how many years and my personalized greeting still says, "Hello Chapter 11!"
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:12AM (#23403450)
    Well, as long as Sanford's brother Marcellus doesn't get convicted, then everything is okay.
  • by drhamad ( 868567 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:16AM (#23403502)
    Important to note here is that nothing was actually tested in court. MySpace won a default judgment because the spammer did not show up. Besides the obvious issues of collecting, that means that they didn't really test anything in court.
  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:16AM (#23403508)
    Why didn't they force the FBI to nail them on computer crimes relating to fraud and unauthorized access.

    You or me wouldn't be able to pressure the FBI to do that, but Myspace and Fox are big enough.

    Throw them into federal prison for a few years and maybe they will stop.

    • You or me wouldn't be able to pressure the FBI to do that, but Myspace and Fox are big enough.

      Yeah, lets let the corps run our country, we the people is overrated /sarcasm

      The moral of the story here is that outside of the 1 in 1,000,000+ odds, you cannot get rich quick legally, and if you go the illegal route, that is fine, but the reason you are making the profit is because of the risk involved. Like the saying goes, if your not willing to do the time, don't do the crime.
    • They would have to show that at least one single action resulted in at least $5000 in damage.
      • That would take tens of seconds to come up with supporting evidence of that.
        • Doing $1 damamge to each of 5000 computers owned by 5000 different people doesn't count. It has to be $5000 in a single "incident". A good prosecutor might be able to convince a Federal judge that sending 100,000,000 identical spams to 100,000,000 different addresses qualifies as a single incident, but it appears that the DOJ is not interested in attempting that.
    • by ad0gg ( 594412 )
      Because its only a jailable offense when an indiviual does it. Corporations only end up in civil court unless they screw over their investors.
  • Well, someone has to say it. Spammers serve no social good, and it's a pretty bad species that preys on its own.
    • it's a pretty bad species that preys on its own.

      Pfft.. name one species where the members wouldn't try to get away with something if they thought they could. Dogs always trying to get up on the sofa, for example. Most species would probably get all cannon-ballistic on their dead relatives as well. Some mothers even eat their live young. Meh. Sure some species have a pretty evolved social structure, but that won't mean they all stop trying to get ahead in that structure even if it means pushing someone else out of the way. The only thing that would stop

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Well, someone has to say it. Spammers serve no social good, and it's a pretty bad species that preys on its own.

      Every species preys on its own. Every species has its deviants. Did you know that there are ants who will make alcohol, and they can actually imbibe it and be intoxicated, but if they are caught making it or using it they are killed? Did you know that baby eagles eat their nestmates if they hatch too much later? Did you know, you know, anything about animals, or the fact that we are some?

  • The number of $230 million seems a bit high.
    Certainly a spammer should have to pay for the traffic he cost and I can see that he should pay a multiple of the money he made from the spamming.
    Even some kind of punitive damage seems in order since he willingly impacted another's business for personal gain.

    But $230 million seems completely out of whack and unrelated to the damage inflicted. $300 dollars per spam seems excessive when the average return per spam mail probably lies far below $1.
    But I guess in time
    • Well, that's what happens when you don't show up to court. The other side usually gets whatever they ask for. Of course, if they didn't properly serve the defendants or there are jurisdictional issues, they can twist out of it and get the case re-tried...
      • It's very likely that Wallace didn't show up (or send a lawyer) because there would be a number of process servers there (and/or other legal-types) waiting to serve him as the target of far more lawsuits.

        Better for him, even at $230 million, to avoid the show.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by stewbacca ( 1033764 )

        Well, that's what happens when you don't show up to court. The other side usually gets whatever they ask for.
        So THAT'S why Brittney Spears didn't bother showing up at her child custody hearings...she actually WANTED to lose custody of her children. And here I thought she was just dumb...
    • Re:frivolous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:26AM (#23403668)
      In this case it isn't about damage infliced it's about punishment. Imagine if the neighbor kid threw a rock through your window once a week, but every week his parents sent a check for twice the amount the window cost to replace. Surely you wouldn't care if the kid kept doing it; after all, it's not costing you anything.

      Punative damages are designed to be excisive to prevent occurances in the first place. To be fair they got off light, the maximum charge of $300 per spam would put them at $2.2 billion.
      • Costs to install the windows, costs when the glass damages your eyes and skin, costs for all the bits of glass left in your carpet that damage you even more, or damage your hoover or your pets, costs for extra heating while there is a draft, costs for the time you spend organising to get the window repaired.. yada yada yada. I'd probably put a bullet/rock-proof window behind the first one so that they just had to keep paying me but I didn't have to deal with the broken glass. Nice little earner I guess, as
        • Which is, of course, the point of the analogy. There are more costs associated with Spame than just the cost of forwarding it through your servers. Your customers get pissed and don't trust you, you have to have customer support to deal with phishing scams, you need extra hardware to handle the increased load and since the loads are higher there are more failures. Eventually, you just bite the bullet and pay for some anti-Spam software the prevents it from reaching your customers.
      • 730,000 infractions x $100/infraction = $73,000,000
        Triple damages: $73,000,000 x 3 = $230,000,000

        This is what the summary states the settlement was for; I think you added a zero.
        • Whoops. I stand corrected. College calculus leads to not being able to do simple math in your head I think.
      • You've got an extra zero in there: 730,000 messages x $300 = $219 million.
    • Who's side are you on? We're trying to eliminate spammers, and the only way to do that is to not make it worth their while to spam. If they know that they'll lose their shirt if they get caught, and if they know there's a very good chance they will be caught, then spam will pretty much cease.

      Besides, when you factor in all of the time it took to investigate and track the spammers, plus all the development costs of spam filters, plus all the time deleting spam spent by those without good filters, plus th
    • Re:frivolous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#23403760)

      The number of $230 million seems a bit high.

      $300 dollars per spam seems excessive when the average return per spam mail probably lies far below $1.
      The damages done to the "MySpace" name are worth the $300 per incident, especially when there are over 700,000 documented incidents. The cumulative damage of 700,000 people saying "MySpace is nothing but spam - don't go there" can completely destroy a business.

      And besides, these assholes are doing the same thing and worse in a variety of places. If you hit them hard enough on the ones you catch them doing hopefully they'll stop doing it elsewhere as well.
  • This is "good" and everything, though somewhat meaningless since Wallace and his partner will never be able to pay the sum, but isn't it ironic that a company like MySpace that foists a product that is only a cunt hair different than spam is suing a spammer? MySpace is like OK! Magazine, sure it's a "publication" but it's certainly not "journalism". Likewise, MySpace is just opt-in legal spam.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
      MySpace can now use some of the lawyers fees they saved to hire a nice bunch of debt collectors to go after him. If Wallace sticks his head up *anywhere* they'll find him and he'll lose pretty much everything he owns to pay the judgment - house, car, computer, etc.

      The large sum pretty much means that no matter how much money he makes between now and then he stands to lose all of it the moment he's found.
      • Those guys, the real sleezey obnoxious asshole ones will work on percentage; they're the ones you want.
    • by H8X55 ( 650339 )
      Well then is /. spam too? Just not as hawt? What about google?

      it is the targeted marketing that you're braying about and not the social network itself, right?
      • Well then is /. spam too? Just not as hawt? What about google?
        Yes. Slashdot is not as "hawt" as MySpace. This is a good thing.
  • From His Blog (Score:4, Informative)

    by MikeyG79 ( 225212 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#23403604)

    "I just read that a court awarded MySpace a $234 million dollar judgment against me. Thatâ(TM)s pretty amazing since I havenâ(TM)t even been served in this case since the preliminary injunction about a year ago. Regardless, the checkâ(TM)s in the mail."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AJWM ( 19027 )
      since I haven't even been served in this case since the preliminary injunction

      So he was served. What, he was expecting an engraved invitation to every court date? It doesn't work that way.

      Regardless, the check's in the mail.

      Oh I hope so, check fraud for that amount is a felony.
      • He (or his attorney) was supposed to be served with a copy of every motion filed with the court. I don't think you can get away with accepting service once and then moving without giving the court and the opposition your new address, though.
    • Also from his blog, but a more recent post.

      I wonder how many people actually know how MySpace got started. Their original team (the people who also started the company xdrive) HIRED my company to send "tell-a-friend" messages through email to promote them several years ago, and it was actually MY TRAFFIC that helped LAUNCH MySpace. Their partner at the time was "euniverse" who ran the biggest "tell-a-friend" spam network on the Internet.

      This guy claims never to have been served with the paperwork for th

  • Judgment (Score:3, Informative)

    by dal20402 ( 895630 ) * <[dal20402] [at] [mac.com]> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#23403622) Journal
    This is not a verdict, it's a default judgment. Verdicts come from juries.
    • Yup, my bad. That is how I wrote it so you can't blame the editors entirely. I should know better (B.S. in Paralegal Studies).

  • by absurdist ( 758409 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:26AM (#23403670)
    ...but they'll never take our FRRRREEEEEED-oh, wait, wrong Wallace. Sorry.
  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:30AM (#23403718)
    I know I'm in the minority when I say I'm against the CAN-SPAM Act. I'm against it because it's pretty much a waste of time.

    Note the contradictory statement FTA:

    The judgment is a big victory for MySpace, although service providers often have a tough time collecting such awards.

    I'd hazard a guess whatever MySpace collects it's still gonna end up costing them more in attorney fees than they could have spent on a technological solution.

    Five years after CAN-SPAM and spam is at an all-time high. CAN-SPAM hasn't even made a dent.

    The real problem with CAN-SPAM is that it's an extremely inefficient way of stopping something that could be accomplished more elegantly with technology.

    Indeed, the reason my inbox isn't filled with spam is because of real-time black holes and filters, *not* because of CAN-SPAM.

    If only the lawyers were programmers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      I know I'm in the minority when I say I'm against the CAN-SPAM Act.

      I sincerely doubt that, at least, I doubt you're in the minority here. The CAN-SPAM act basically says that your corporate overlords CAN-SPAM you with impunity.

      Five years after CAN-SPAM and spam is at an all-time high.

      That's because it's a bad law. Had they actually outlawed unsolicited commercial email with jail time for spammers and financial remedies to Joe Public and his Windows box, it may have alleviated spam somewhat, or at least move
    • I'd hazard a guess whatever MySpace collects it's still gonna end up costing them more in attorney fees than they could have spent on a technological solution.

      Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that an issue whenever you're collecting a settlement --be it an insurance payment, accident related, child support or whatever?
    • I know I'm in the minority when I say I'm against the CAN-SPAM Act.

      I doubt it. The CAN-SPAM act was written by the spammers, for the spammers. It did exactly what it was designed to do. Anyone that is opposed to spam and has paid any attention is against the CAN-SPAM act.

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:30AM (#23403720) Homepage Journal
    I know how to make the Superbowl Halftime Show NOT suck. Execute Spamford Wallace on the field.

    Don't just execute him. Make a game of it. Bring down the lucky fans who have their seats drawn or something along the lines, and give them lead weighted or steel footballs to throw at him. The one who delivers the death ball (could be the first guy if he's good enough) wins a Chevy truck.

    During the world series, have a contest taking out his partner.

    Then we need to get the rest of the world involved, I'm sure something could be done with the world cup. The Olympics? Well China has LOTS of spammers in their country, and they have no problem executing criminals either. I could see contest with discus, shot put, and javelins.

    Make this the year of spammer carnage, see if we get much spam next year. We wouldn't even have to execute them all, just a few high profile ones at a few events and the others will chicken out. At least in Spamford Wallaces case his will be well earned.

    Can you imagine the advertising revenue doing this would generate in the half time show? People would tune in just for the half time show, talk about a win/win situation.
    • by jskline ( 301574 )
      This may not work.

      Fact is that Chevy only makes really really big trucks these days and they're gas hogs. People are looking for economy now and you almost can't give a way a big vehicle anymore. Now if they were to offer say a Toyota hybrid.... You'd have a full stadium and the ticket sales would be enough to not only pay for the costs incurred with the execution, but also the burial, stadium traffic control, pay off the city budget for the year, and drop a few billion off of the national debt!!!

      what else
    • Sounds familiar [imdb.com].
  • Is Wallace really just trying to earn the title of "biggest single-person *ssh*l* on the Internet?" he's getting ready to look worse than Greg Thompson or Darl McBride these days...
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:48AM (#23404018) Homepage

    Apparently some people just don't take the hint.
    They've taken one hint - people like that rarely have assets. House? Rented. Car? Leased. Money? Not in the bank. There's nothing to seize and the rent usually isn't refundable, so unless they get at the source all they can do is try to catch the rent money. That usually means it's time to pack up and run the same setup all over again. It's amazing how rich some people can be that officially are dead broke... So 230$ million? Let us know how much they collect. Hard time would be much more effective.
    • It is also amazing what a swarm of lawyers, private detectives, and accountants can accomplish in the way of finding and seizing "hidden" assets when $230M is dangled in front of them.
  • Spam is of course a complex matter but anyone who wishes to avoid myspace can always install the Firefox extension amionmyspace
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6067 [mozilla.org]

    Sadly not yet updated for the latest version of Firefox, but always amusing when you think you clicked on something important that turned out to be an Ivy-Leaguer's spring break pictures of a really stooopid drunken party.

    What? No? Happens to me all the time...

    You can also eliminate loads of timewasting (ie not on slashdot) a
  • Spamford Wallace! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:55AM (#23404166) Homepage
    That's the name that I expected never to see again. What is next, Canter & Siegel?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek ( 112599 )
      Martha Siegel is a spammer you won't hear from again--she died in 2000.

      However, she's probably the ONLY spammer you won't hear from again. Spamford Wallace, Alan Ralsky, Scott Richter, Michael Lindsay, are all names that will keep coming back. The fact that they're not all serving life in jail doing hard labour is proof that (a) the Can-Spam law doesn't work, and (b) countries have to start working together to castrate these SOBs.

      As long as they're alive, they'll try to scam people. Internet spam is the 'ni
  • There was no telephone listing for Wallace in the Las Vegas area, to which he moved in 2004 to pursue night club promotion work. Service was disconnected for two listed numbers for Rines in Stratham, N.H., his last known address; a third number in Stratham was unlisted.

    How come someone (the reporter?) knows a third unlisted number, and apparently an address, and doesn't report it? I'm not having any luck in finding the case though public records. I'm not sure what I'd do with the info, but I'm sure it would get me in trouble.

  • by Misch ( 158807 )
    Sanford Wallace?

    LART That Pinhead! [userfriendly.org]
  • My stance toward spammers is the same as the Army's stance on terrorists: Nuke 'em 'til they glow and then shoot 'em in the dark.
  • Sanford "Spamford" Wallace and Walter "Pickle Jar" Rines [google.com], together again, still spamming.

    For some reason this picture [archive.org] just popped into my head.
  • I would have thought vigilantes had taken him out years ago. It's pretty amazing that he's still breathing; he's a long-time enemy of practically every person on the Internet. And don't tell me there aren't any crazy/violent people on the Internet.

  • "What we need are a few good old fashioned hangings." -- FTC Commissioner Orson Swindel; at the 2003 FTC Spam Conference.

    "REMAIN CALM" -- Afterburner; professional sysadmin and member of Subgenius Police, Usenet Tactical Units, Mobile (SPUTUM) who provided documented evidence used to sink Spamford and Picklejar's boat last time they got uppity. (Winner of the Golden Mallet award, as was Bill Mattocks).

    "There Is No Cabal, and we will KICK ASS." -- Doug Mackall (dec. 1999); Cabal organizer and another Golden
  • I'm reading the CAN-SPAM Act right now, and though I'm not a fan of spam regardless of the source, I'm not sure a MySpace PM, tag, photo comment constitutes an "electronic message" under that law.

    SMTP by its nature is VERY vulnerable to abuse (false headers, having to accept and filter from unknown servers, etc.), so a law protecting it is reasonable.

    This is similar in concept to fax-spam. Sure, you could build a fax machine that would only accept incoming calls from a "white list," but it would create as m
  • Still at it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gm0e ( 872436 )
    This guy supposedly turned over a new leaf years ago when he opened a sketchy dance club near my school, U. of New Hampshire. http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2003/10/60714 [wired.com]

    Before UNH caught on, the school's entire email directory was publicly accessible. Obviously the work of Wallace, there were a bunch of spam emails poorly disguised to look like some girl's conversation about the club that she mistakenly forwarded to the whole school.

  • Take that, Ayn Rand! Audacity is not always a virtue, but often a moral weakness.
  • Isn't all spam sent "willfully and knowingly"? I just figured that was included in the definition of spam.
  • I think they should have put it in the how-sweet-it-is department, not the i-thought-that-guy-was-done department. That should be a special circle of Hades reserved for the Darl McBride guy formerly over at the former SCO.

    On the news itself, wonderful. However, it's not enough to go after the big fish. We need to destroy the little spammers, too. Basically, the spammer sends out 100 or 1,000 spams hoping to find one sucker--but I think we could really hurt the spammers if we made it really easy for any of t

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