U.S. Judge Hits Facebook Spammer with Massive Damages

By Matthew Harwood

A spammer was ordered to pay Facebook $873 million in damages by a federal judge last Friday, but the popular social networking Web site’s security director says he doesn’t expect payment in full.

Federal judge Jeremy Fogel last week ordered Adam Guerbuez, of Montreal, and his company Atlantis Blue Capital to pay Facebook damages for spamming their users with unwanted solicitations for pornography, marijuana, and Viagra.

Fogel constructed his spam network by obtaining Facebook users’ names and passwords through phishing scams and spoofed Web sites. During March and April of this year, Fogel sent four million spam messages inside Facebook.

The Associated Press reports the award would represent three times the social networking site's expected revenue of $250 to $300 million this year. The fine, according to TechConnect Magazine, is the largest ever handed down under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

But Max Kelly, Facebook’s director of security, doesn’t expect to receive any amount close to the $873 million the judge ordered Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital to pay.

“Does Facebook expect to quickly collect $873 million and share the proceeds in some way with our users?” wrote Kelly on Facebook’s blog. “Alas, no.”

Nevertheless, Kelly says Facebook is “confident that this award represents a powerful deterrent to anyone and everyone who would seek to abuse Facebook and its users.”

Kelly also wrote that Facebook dedicates itself to stopping spam on its site.

“Everyone who participates constructively in Facebook should feel confident that we are fighting hard to protect you against spam and other online nuisances,” he blogged.  “We will continue to invest in this area by improving our technical safeguards and devoting significant resources to finding, exposing and prosecuting the sources of spam attacks.”


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