The popular online hangout MySpace has won a $234-million judgment over junk messages sent to its members in what is believed to be the largest anti-spam award.
A federal judge ruled against two of the Internet's most prominent spam defendants, Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines, after the two failed to show up at a court hearing Monday.
Wallace has earned the nicknames "Spamford" and "spam king" for his past role as head of a company that sent as many as 30 million junk e-mails a day in the 1990s.
It's a big victory for MySpace, although service providers often have a tough time collecting such awards.
But even if the News Corp.-owned website never collects, the company hopes that the judgment will deter other spammers.
"Anybody who's been thinking about engaging in spam are going to say, 'Wow, I better not go there,' " said Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer. "Spammers don't want to be prosecuted. They are there to make money. It's our job to send a message to stop them."
There was no telephone listing for Wallace in the Las Vegas area. Service was disconnected for two listed numbers for Rines in Stratham, N.H.; a third number was unlisted.