A Montreal man who sent more than four million spam e-mails to Facebook users over a two month period has been ordered to pay more than $1 billion in compensation.
According to Facebook, Adam Guerbuez, who lived in California at the time, fooled its users into providing him with their usernames and passwords. One method was the use of fake websites that posed as legitimate destinations being posted on individuals’ Facebook walls.
He then gained access to each user’s personal profile and used computer programs to send out millions of messages to all in their address books promoting a variety of products, including marijuana and penis enlargement products.
Guerbuez has never actually admitted to sending the spam. But he did not contest a Superior Court ruling in Canada which upheld an earlier decision by a U.S. District Court judge in San Jose.
The initial fine was worked out at $100 US for each of the 4,366,386 spam messages that Guerbuez sent. But the spammer didn’t pay up, so Facebook’s lawyers eventually tracked him down in Canada and started proceedings there.
When punitive damages and the exchange rate are factored in, Guerbuez now owes $1,068,928,721.46. That’s one billion Canadian dollars, or around £625M. And he is also barred from opening a Facebook account.
Guerbuez has argued that the fine was excessive, adding that spam is nothing more than a nuisance. Over 4 million messages is surely more than a mere nuisance.
Spam is clearly big business. How many offers do you get through your e-mail account every day? But Guerbuez now aims to claim bankruptcy to avoid his mammoth bill. Guess he didn’t sell too many of his products then. Although he is thought to be seeking a book and movie deal to tell his story.
As well as his own blog and website, Adam Guerbuez is known to have a Twitter account. So just be careful who you hook up with over there, especially if a new friend offers you some really good deals.