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08 Jun 2006
News reports say that high profile Ryan Pitylak was fined $10 million by the Texas Attorney General. A few days ago, he paid a $1M settlement to Microsoft. Since it had been widely reported that he'd made between $3M and $4M during his spamming career, that seemed like a pretty good deal for him. As I commented to the San Antonio Express, this new fine is more in line with what he did, and at least relieves him of all his ill-gotten gains.
One of the unfortunate realities of spam is that if you have no morals and are willing to take the legal risks, you can make a whole lot of money quickly, much more than spammers could make otherwise. Jeremy Jaynes, the spammer who Virginia and AOL put in jail, made over $10M from bogus Federal Express refund kits. From what I saw of him at the trial, it was hard to imagine him making significant money legitimately.
The positive news here is that the law is able to go after big spammers where it hurts, in the wallet. But the bad news is that the mechanism for doing so is cumbersome, and only is workable against to the largest spammers. At the moment, there are enough big spammers that they're the main targets, but for a thousand spammers making $100K apiece, the enforcement won't work.
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