AOL Wins $5 Mln Judgment Against Spammer

The Assocated Press is reporting U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton has issued a summary judgement against spammer Christopher William Smith, ordering the Prior, Minnesota man to pay America Online some $5.3 million in damages, along with more than a quarter million dollars in legal fees. The judgement is believed to be the largest ever levied in a junk email case.

Smith is believed to be one of the world’s most notorious spammers, having operated under the name “Rizler.” Smith refused to participate in the proceedings; his lawyers withdrew from the case several months after it was filed, following initial statements questioning the validity of the CAN-SPAM act and denying any wrongdoing. Smith is currently in jail awaiting trial on federal drug charges connected with operating an online pharmacy.

Smith was accused of sending billions of spam messages to AOL account holders in 2003, promoting fake college degrees, cable descramblers, generic impotence drugs, and explicit Web sites. AOL first sued Smith in 2003, but refiled again in 2005 to take advantage of 2004’s CAN-SPAM federal legislation. AOL has called Smith has been called the “poster child” for the CAN-SPAM act, as his case helped spawn the federal legislation.

It’s unknown what portion of the judgement, if any, AOL will be able to collect from any assets remaining to Smith or resulting from his illegal activities.