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Email spammer nailed with $11 billion dollar judgment

9:52 pm on Jan 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Not sure if this judgment alone can be a major deterrent (I think not) but the dollar amount is pretty impressive.

An Midwest internet service provider was awarded an $11.2 billion judgment
against a Florida man for sending millions of unsolicited e-mails advertising mortgage
and debt consolidation services...

The most recent judgment was issued Dec. 23 against James McCalla of Florida,
who is also barred from accessing the internet for three years.


4:04 pm on Jan 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

WOW 11.2 billion dollars, wow.
how is he ever going to pay for it?

I doubt he'll ever pay that or anything remotely close. I'm sure his lawyers will appeal the judgement.

The most ironic thing about this is the emails he sent were related to mortgage and debt consolidation. Now he needs debt consolidation!

8:57 pm on Jan 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have to agree that a fine per email would be good (California has a law on the books with penalty info) but enforcement or collection would be difficult.

If you've viewed email headers the first received line (coming into your own mail server) I believe can not be faked. All other received lines can be faked. To look up IP's of the source coming to your mail server you will find that most will originate from (1) poor countries (especially APNIC ip groups), (2) from states with predominance of poor people, or (3) from IP's of hosting services that don't care about giving service to spammers.

(a) It may be difficult to identify the actual sender (who may use a dial up service or may access another person's internet connection via insecure wireless LAN or similar), (b) some countries (or states) may not have spam laws or may not respect other country spam laws, and (c) language differences may cause difficulty.

Multiple causes and issues make proof, enforcement, and collection, etc, all difficult.

It is my belief that most IP's in use today are of the IPv4 configuration, such as and I had heard that IPv6 would be forthcoming with a larger number, not sure how many other "digits" would be added, but just by adding one extra group such as abc. if the beginning "new portion" of "abc" was to be country specific then all existing ip numbers that a country might have under the old IPv4 system could be retained by that country plus they would gain a lot more usable ip numbers, but the ideal result would be that countries could be identified by their own group.

Consider the aspect of abc for US being 001, Canada 002, Mexico 003, England 004, Japan 005, China 006,.... room for 256 countries (000-255). I believe that would allow almost all countries to have their own "group" (if not enough for all countries to have their own, then a few small countries could share a group with another). If the IPv6 number configuration were not "abc" as in my example, but as "abc.def" then instead of 256 groups there would be 64k groups.

Currently with IPv4 countries may have a huge mixture of IP numbers and the
80-88 group of IP's mostly in Europe shows countries are quite intermixed, likewise for IP's in the APNIC (Asia) group.

Under the new IP system it would be "just like" a County-Code designation for the telephone system.

The great difference would be that with IPv6 implementation that people could configure their email client or mail server to allow receipt of email only from certain countries or could selectively block an ENTIRE country. Simple and easy control of spam. No relatives in Japan and no reason to get email from there the entire country could be blocked from a person's email. Likewise this new IPv6 system where the beginning would be country specific would allow the same control to be added to websites.

If your personal site or business web site would not be doing business with Taiwan (as example) then that entire country could be blocked from your site thus eliminating harvesters etc from that country. The countries that you could allow could be those of your own country or intened audience and for email you could allow your own country and countries that respect your antispam laws.

Limiting email to your own country (and others that respect your antispam laws) would make it easier to enforce existing laws and to collect from violators.

As for the aspect of proving identity of the sender based on originating IP numbers a good part is that "dial up service" providers through courts can tell who the login ID was and in the US telephone records could show who dialed that dialup number (most people don't know that local calls are also recorded on a central office data tape), thus it "could" be possible to trace origination of access via a dialup access to a person's telephone number. Conversely, if a spammer with a wireless laptop drove through a neighborhood and found an insecure LAN/wireless system for access then proof becomes another matter.

Curious: Does anyone have any additinal information about the future of IPv6 IP numbering? Would it be configured to be country specific, as I gave in my example? Any expected date for implementation?

I would think that just the addition of some extra "routers" at the head of each ISP or network that would handle the identity of either "abc" or "abc.def" would be the simplest addition that could make such a change work.

It would surely put a stop to most spam and make it easier to deal with the remaining offenders.

11:00 pm on Jan 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Nice idea ..but ..I regularly get spammed by someone from my own country selling ..CD list of all the "who is" info .. including phone and fax and emails of all the officially registered businesses with or without websites in my country ..France ..

up 'til this week I let it slide ..

However as they actually give their domain name "in clear" in their spam , and their own french official company registration info company number ( siret) etc and their "premium rate french phone number" for contact ..

I ran a trace route on their server ..then ..phoned and emailed their hoster ..( french ..email spam is very very illegal here when you can "prove" it happens )..their hoster was very "interested" ( particularly when I hinted at the possibilities of being joined to the offending site in a damages suit ..and sent them an email including the last 6 spams from their customer .

they are gone ..and of course the administrations wheels will grind on and maybe they will eventually find themselves explaining to a judge "how they got their info" and why they spammed me and any other email addy in France ..


2:08 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ok, spam is annoying and in some places illegal

But I donít really get this witch hunt. I get loads of unsolicited brochures through my letterbox from companies and supermarkets selling all sorts of crap I donít need, am not interested in and did not ask for.

Surely ďpaper spamĒ is much more damaging then email spam. It damages the forests that were used for the paper and then does more damage to the environment when they are disposed of.

So they passed a law here in Belgium that said it cannot be ďanonymousĒ, result? They wrap it in plastic and put a sticker with my name and address on it! Easy bypass of the law, and 10 trillion plastic bags added to the trash heap Ö

I wish people would sometimes focus on this too.

2:42 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Spam like drugs will never go away as long as it continues to make money.
2:54 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

<edit>DOh! helps if you read all the posts</edit>

I agree completely with Stef25


3:21 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

But I donít really get this witch hunt.

Apart from any other considerations , when someone sends you spam with a large graphical content ..like 10 megs or so ..and yes that is how big the average french graphical commercial spam is ..then if you are on dial up it will take an hour to download it ( to do so you have to pay for that hour! )..most dial up here is charged at $5.oo per hour ( you pay say $50.oo per month for 100 hours of internet and then $5.oo per hour for every hour over that ) ..

And if you cant get it off your server then it will block all other mail ( most pop accounts with ISPS here are at 10 megs max )..so you cant see any normal mail that you actually want and had asked for ..

Of course you can phone your ISP's hotline ..at $5.oo per minute ( that is no typo ..apart from "Alice" ..everyone elses tech and customer service hotlines are $5.oo per minute ..you can be on hold for 20 minutes before you get a live person :( been there done that..!
They can then purge your inbox ..but it might take another 10 minutes while you and they figure out what to purge and what to keep ( here is not like the states with mailwasher etc that you can do yourself serverside .."they" don't allow it )..

So to receive this spam can cost you from $5.oo per time to $100.oo per time!

( BTW ..If you don't pay the bill for what you didn't ask for the ISP and or phone company will just cut you off ..they aren't interested that it was spam and their hotline that cost you this ..our consumer laws are a "bad dream" here )

How would you feel if your unwanted supermarket brochures not only destroyed trees ..but cost you that kind of money each one ..each time they put one in your letterbox!

Now that I live somewhere where I have DSL ( albiet I can only get 2.5 megs downspeed )..and have the only ISP who offers free hotline here ..even if my VOIP is unavailable 50% of the time :((( like this afternoon :((..( due to "too many calls on the system infrastructure" ) I decided to fight back on behalf of the poor schmucks who are still being crucified financially by the spammers like I was before ..

The drain on communications resources etc due to spam ..I'll let someone else explain to you as I've got stuff to do ..

So if someone sends you spam ..it is a very very big problem and it needs stamping out ..we can each do our bit ..

Here I'm just talking about the spam that can hit your personal accounts ..what I get through my servers I can and do deal with differently as obviously I can just go in and filter or remove at the top end of the pipe ..

6:32 am on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Now that's how you stop SPAM.
2:43 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


" But I donít really get this witch hunt. "

I worry about someone who considers stopping spam a "witch hunt". -Larry

5:21 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

perhaps witch hunt was too strong. i believe it should be eradicated. there are however other forms of unsolicited advertisement that, in my opinion, cause more damage than electronic spam.
5:28 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

presumably you didn't read my post ..? or you don't "do " maths ;)
5:54 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

if the spammer is reading this: Don't get disouraged by the ridicoulous award; I will negotiate on your behalf, and I have no doubt that a settlement in the $1 billion range can be reached. Sticky me if interested


6:07 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

damage, as in to the environment, not to your wallet. if you dont feel like paying 100$ to download one spam email - get hotmail, gmail, yahoo

at least we both agree on the fact that dealing with an isp is a pain in the ass ;-)

6:51 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

We are drifting OT here but would you really want the admin contacts for your websites to be either hotmail ( had it..it's spam heaven ..don't use it since 2 years ) ( gmail ..got it wouldn't trust my admin contact email addies to it ) ..( yahoo ..same reason as hotmail ) ..

If you run sites you have to use your ISP for some stuff ..obviously you cant use your sites ..well you can use one of them to catch the others mails etc ..but it gets silly ;)

7:44 pm on Jan 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The difference is that there are inherent limits on paper spam. An advertiser spends anywhere from maybe 5c to a buck sending you a solicitation, which is not inconsiderable. For a million pieces of junk mail that's $50,000 to $1 million.

Email spam, on the other hand, costs virtually nothing to send. Imagine if it wasn't illegal. Email would simply become impossible to use. I mean seriously, the whole system would have to be thrown away and redesigned from the ground up.

10:31 am on Jan 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Spammer's also hijack other people's computers and/or bandwidth - both are likely to be considered illegal in most countries.

I imagine that under current laws, most countries could, in theory, prosecute a company for paying for spam advertising.

Spammers are almost impossible to track down (without the resources of the FBI or similar organisation). On the other hand, you simply need to prove that money changed hands in return for a spam campaign to prosecute the real source of the problem.


2:27 pm on Jan 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A fine without enforcement is pointless however large the sum may be.

For me, I don't just filter but block them. Making them waste half an hour trying to get a spam mail through then filter after that is better than just filtering which doesn't seems to bother them.

5:22 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

For me, I don't just filter but block them.

When I have some free time, I dissect the SPAM message and add it to my redirect file on my mail server. SPAM almost always contains a link to the site being advertised. Any message containing that site address gets forwarded to the FTC (pretty much worthless, but at least it creates an e-trail for any future prosecution), any admin/technical/billing contacts for the domain (usually all the same, but sometimes bogus addresses) and the contacts for the IP address of the site (these days mostly in China, Russia, or Korea).

The problem is that with domains so cheap, SPAMMERS can easily afford to use a domain for a SPAM blitz one day, then change the domain and do another blitz the next day.

This 48 message thread spans 2 pages: 48

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