Facebook spammer ordered to pay $711 million

The social networking site wins damages against noted spammer Sanford Wallace for bombarding its users with junk mail.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A California judge awarded Facebook $711 million in damages against spammer Sanford Wallace for bombarding the Web site with junk messages.

"We won another battle in the fight against spam," said Facebook, which announced the Oct. 29 ruling on its Web site on Friday.

Wallace, who has also been called the "Spam King," accessed Facebook members' accounts without their permission and sent out "phony" Wall posts and messages, the company said.

In addition to the damages, Judge Jeremy Fogel of U.S. District Court in Northern California's San Jose division banned Wallace, and anyone affiliated with him, from accessing Facebook.

Facebook acknowledged that it doesn't expect to get much money out of the bankrupt Wallace, but it said that he could end up behind bars.

"Most notably, the judge referred Wallace to the U.S. Attorney's Office with a request that Wallace be prosecuted for criminal contempt, which means that in addition to the judgment, he now faces possible jail time," read the Facebook statement. "We will continue to pursue damages against other spammers."

Wallace lives in Las Vegas, according to the court, and a phone message for him was not immediately returned.

This isn't the first time that Sanford was successfully sued by an online company. In May, 2008, MySpace won a $230 million judgment against Wallace for sending junk messages. Wallace was also fined $4 million by the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 for his excessive pop-up ads. To top of page

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