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A small US ISP has been awarded damages of $1bn against three spammers by an Iowa judge. The surreal size of the award was arrived at under an Iowa law which fines spammers $10 for each unsolicited emai they send.

CIS Internet Services supplies email services for 5,000 customers in and around Clinton, Iowa. At one point in 2000 the ISP was receiving up to 10 million spams a day - mostly directed to non-existent email addresses. The source of the addresses was a CDROM called Bulk Mailing 4 Dummies. This contained 2.8m email addresses supposedly for customers of CIS, as well as millions of addresses, mostly bogus, for the likes of AOL, Hotmail and Earthlink, AP reports.

In 2003 Robert Kramer, CIS's owner, filed John Doe suits against 300 spammers. On Friday, a US district judge issued default judgments against three companies which failed to turn up to an earlier hearing in November to defend themselve . Kramer is unlikely to collect any damages, but his lawyer is hopeful that he can claw back legal costs.

The three companies which are supposed to pay damages are: AMP Dollar Savings Inc.($720m) of Arizona; Cash Link Systems Inc.($360m) and TEI Marketing Group Inc ($140,000), both of Florida. ®

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