Yahoo has just announced that it has been awarded a $610 million default judgment against spammers responsible for a fake Yahoo lottery email scheme. The order was handed down by a federal district court judge in New York on Monday, December 5, 2011.
Apparently in the scheme, email messages were sent to users trying to deceive them into believing they had won a lottery prize offered by Yahoo. The hoax was designed to get users to send spammers personal data such as social security numbers and credit card numbers, which are then used for identity and credit theft. Yahoo originally filed the lawsuit in 2008.
According to the statement, the judge found the defaulting defendants jointly and severally liable as participants in a conspiracy under New York common law. The $610 million judgment was composed of a statutory damages award for trademark infringement in the amount of $27 million and a statutory damages award for violation of the CAN-SPAM Act in the amount of $583 million. Yahoo was also awarded attorneys’ fees.
The problem with these huge awards and the nature of the spamming business is accountability. Now the challenge will be actually recovering the hundreds of millions in judgement money from the spammers.