AOL to Give Away Spammer Stash

One spammer's misfortune could be an Internet user's dream as AOL plans to give away a fully-loaded Hummer H2 and nearly $100,000 in cash and gold bars. The online service received the loot through a provision in the CAN-SPAM act, which allows courts to seize property obtained through profits from the sending of unsolicited e-mails.

In addition to seizing the spammer's assets, AOL also won a $13 million judgment against the company, and will donate the seized computer equipment to schools in Northern Virginia.

The property will be given away through the AOL Spammer's Gold Sweepstakes, which will begin Wednesday and will run through August 19. Participants will be able to enter once per day by answering a question on computer security and safety.

Every day during the period a $1,000 prize will be awarded with the grand prize drawing at the end of the contest. The grand prize winner will receive the 2003 Hummer H2 and nearly $85,000 in cash and gold bars.

All of the loot was seized from a then 20-year old man in New Hampshire following a successful campaign to shut down and sue the spammer. At his height, AOL claims the man had 40 computers sending out millions of spam e-mails per day.

In on day in January 2004 alone, the spammer generated 100,000 complaints from AOL members.

"The safety and security of our members is Job No. 1 at AOL, and that means taking aggressive action against spammers and scammers. I am delighted that our efforts are paying off, literally, with the seizure of these assets and the sweepstakes," Jon Miller, Chairman and CEO of AOL said in prepared remarks.

Miller pointed to statistics that show an 85 percent drop in spam on the service, announcing that spam filters now block 1.4 billion messages per day as opposed to a high of 2.4 billion messages in one day in 2003.

AOL also 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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