King Of Spam Hit With $6 Million Fine

Dennis Faas's picture

The man who once dubbed himself the 'King of Spam' is finding unsolicited messaging isn't always a cheap form of advertising. A court has ordered him to pay $6 million in damages and legal fees to MySpace.

Scott Richter has already announced he won't appeal the award, which is just 5% of the $120 million that MySpace requested.

Last month a court awarded the company a record $230 million against two men who'd sent almost 750,000 messages to MySpace members. Unfortunately, the pair no-showed the court date and went into hiding without paying the fine.

Richter's fine could have been considerably higher: MySpace brought the case under California's anti-spam laws which allow for up to $100 compensation for each and every spam message. However, Richter asked the court to refer the case to arbitration to decide a fair settlement.

Richter claimed his company, Media Breakaway, wasn't responsible for the spamming, in which MySpace customers got messages, supposedly from online friends, promoting a website. The account details needed for such messaging appear to have come through illegal phishing (tricking web users into handing over personal details), though Richter insists his firm did not do this and blames affiliate firms which gathered the information. That's partly why the fine was relatively low. (Source:

In 2005, Microsoft sued Richter for similar activity and collected $5 million in damages, bankrupting his suspiciously-named

As well as losing money, Richter is also losing friends: the arbitration ruling banned he and his employees from using MySpace.

But as ZDNet's Larry Dignan artfully put it, with some spammers apparently seeing such fines as little more than a business expense, firms like MySpace are effectively playing 'Whac-a-Mole': no sooner do they deal with one criminal than another pops up. (Source:

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