Yahoo awarded $610 million in spam case

The spam campaign promised people prizes from a non-existent Yahoo lottery in an effort to steal their information

Yahoo has won a lawsuit against spammers, a legal victory that also includes a default judgment of US$610 million.

In the lawsuit, filed in May 2008, Yahoo targeted a variety of individuals and companies, accusing them of trying to scam people via a spam campaign that falsely informed email recipients that they had won prizes in a non-existent Yahoo-sponsored lottery.

Yahoo alleged that the defendants' goal was to trick email recipients into providing them with personal and financial information that could be used to commit fraud by raiding victims' bank accounts, using their credit cards and applying for loans on their behalf.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Yahoo's allegations are "uncontroverted" and said the company is entitled to $27 million in statutory damages for trademark infringement and $583 million in statutory damages for violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.

It's not clear whether Yahoo will be able to collect the money. A default judgment is rendered when defendants in a case fail to plead or defend an action, as happened in this case, in which the defendants never responded to Yahoo's complaint.

"Defendants have never responded in this action or appeared before the Court, much less cooperated with the Court," the judge wrote in her decision.

The defendants include individuals from Thailand and Nigeria, as well as corporations from Taiwan and Nigeria. Yahoo estimates that they sent more than 11.6 million hoax lottery emails between December 2006 and May 2009.

Yahoo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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