Florida spammer fined $11.2 BILLIONJanuary 05, 2006
The judgement, given by US District Judge Charles R. Wolle, also prohibits James McCalla from accessing the Internet for three years.
The lawsuit, filed in 2003 by CIS Internet Services owner Robert Kramer III, claimed that James Christopher McCalla, 26, aka James McNully, sent more than 280 million illegal spam e-mails into CIS's network, which provides Internet connections in eastern Iowa and parts of Illinois.
Kramer's lawsuit initially named numerous defendants, many of whom were dropped from the lawsuit the last couple years. In 2004, judgments totaling more than $1 billion were issued against Cash Link Systems of Florida, AMP Dollar Savings Inc. of Arizona, and TEI Marketing Group Inc. of Florida.
The lawsuit said the defendants "falsely and illegally represented that their e-mails originated from CIS or from some other user of the 'cis.net' domain." The e-mails, the lawsuit states, used the cis.net domain as part of a falsified return address. By doing so, the defendants disguised the true source of the e-mails "to deflect the thousands of inevitable complaints from disgruntled recipients of the e-mails."
Such e-mails included a work-at-home get-rich-quick scheme, illegal Internet gambling and a pornographic Web site, the lawsuit states.
McCalla chose to defend himself without an attorney, claiming that he was insolvent. In an April 2004 court filing, McCalla denied any and all allegations of wrongdoing. "These accusations jeopardize my reputation and I intend to file a countersuit with an action for defamation if these complaints against me are not rescinded," said McCalla in the filing.
In February 2005, he wrote a letter to the court accusing Atlanta attorney Pete 'Spammer Hammer' Wellborn, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, of "taking advantage of me simply because I do not have an attorney ... Pete asked what assets I owned, and I told him only a 1996 Honda Accord. He laughed and said he would be happy to take that from me."
Another letter, sent in August 2005, accused CIS Internet of "taking advantage of their ability to afford lawyers in order to prey on smaller starting companies and innocent people."
Nonetheless, in November 2005, the judge entered a summary judgment against McCalla, noting that the defendant "has failed to submit any affidavit or other competent summary judgment evidence to support his general resistance and argument against plaintiff's motion."
The judgment is the biggest ever against a spammer, yet McCalla isn't even listed on the Spamhaus list of the world's largest spammers.
"I'm pleased with Judge Wolle's ruling," said Kramer. "It's a victory for every email user and every responsible ISP. It's proof our courts and Congress are committed to protecting the public."
"E-mail is an innovation like atomic energy or the automobile. In the beginning, the opportunity for misuse is obvious. For email, that's now changed," he said. "This ruling sets a new standard. Gross abusers of email risk exposure to public ridicule as well as the economic death penalty."