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Facebook awarded $711m in 'Spamford' Wallace case

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Facebook has been awarded $711 million in damages against the infamous junk mail merchant, Sanford "Spamford" Wallace, who gained access to numerous accounts on the social website and sent phony messages to their friends.

"While we don't expect to receive the vast majority of the award, we hope that this will act as a continued deterrent against these criminals," said Facebook counsel Sam O'Rourke in a blog post.

Wallace and two business associates broke into Facebook accounts using phishing email scams in order to plaster inboxes and wall posts of the victim's friends to promote porn and gambling sites.

"The record demonstrates that Wallace willfully violated the statutes in question with blatant disregard for the rights of Facebook and thousands of Facebook users whose accounts were compromised by his conduct," US District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, California said in a court order.

Facebook had asked for more than $7bn in damages in the case, but Fogel ruled he was not persuaded that the amount was proportionate to Wallace's offenses. He instead lowered the damages to a still very tidy sum of $710,737,650.

The lawsuit claimed Wallace, who didn't formally appear in the action, was responsible for 14,214,753 violations of the CAN-SPAM Act. The social website said it would not pursue a case against Wallace's alleged associates, Adam Arzoomanian and Scott Shaw.

Facebook said the judgment is the second largest in history for an action brought under the US Can-Spam Act — the largest being a $873m judgment Facebook won against Canadian spammer Adam Guerbuez in 2008.

Judge Fogel also issued a permanent injunction against Wallace from accessing Facebook and referred Wallace to the US Attorney's Office with a request he be prosecuted for criminal contempt. ®

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