AOL Goes Digging for Spammer's Gold

AOL's efforts to seize money from a convicted spammer has led the company to the front yard of a home in Massachusetts. Buried in the earth are gold and platinum bars Davis Wolfgang Hawke purchased with his illicit earnings, AOL believes.

A $12.8 million judgement was won last year against Hawke, but AOL has been unable to locate him and collect the payment. Hawke was reportedly raking in $600,000 per week at his operation's height, and invested the cash in gold and platinum in hopes it would be harder for authorities to take.

Hawke's parents claim the bars are not located on their two-acre property, and plans to fight AOL's plans, which were approved by a judge. The company is preparing to start digging with bulldozers and geological teams. AOL said it will try to be as unobtrusive as possible.

This isn't the first time AOL has made a spammer pay up. Last year, the company seized a fully-loaded Hummer H2 and nearly $100,000 in cash and gold bars, which it gave away in a contest. AOL claimed that spammer had used 40 computers to send out a million spam e-mails each day.

At a height in 2003, AOL mail servers blocked 2.4 billion spam e-mails each day. That number has since dropped thanks to efforts to fight the problem.

AOL previously issued a terse warning to spammers sending unsolicited mail to the service. "AOL will find you and sue you. And AOL will do everything it can to make sure its members end up with any money you made as a spammer."

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