Iowa ISP owner wins $236 million spam judgment
A federal judge last week ordered couple Henry Perez and Suzanne Bartok to pay the damages for delivering millions of crippling mortgage spam in 2003 to servers belonging to CIS Internet Services, owned by Robert Kramer.
Perez and Bartok purchased software called Bulk Mailing 4 Dummies to send the spam. The program included 2.8 million email addresses using Kramer's domain – cis.net – even though he had only about 5,000 customers, according to U.S. District Court Judge John Jarvey's decision.
“Whoever put this [program] together had fabricated supposed email addresses of customers of cis.net,” Matt Preston, Kramer's Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based lawyer, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday.
Thanks to this program and the resulting spam, Kramer was forced in 2003 to upgrade to two dozen servers and devoted 60 hours a week to blocking spam, according to court documents.
“This was consuming the bandwidth of his ISP and interfering with his ability to run a business venture,” Preston said, adding that his client lost about 4,000 customers from his peak because of the poor service that resulted.
Kramer requested a judgment of $10 an email, which is what was allowable under Iowa anti-spam law in 2003, his attorney said.
Kramer's company may have been targeted because the domain was similar to that of CompuServe's cis.com, according to published reports. CompuServe, now owned by AOL, was one of the first major providers of online services.
In 2006, Kramer won an $11 billion judgment against a Florida man who delivered 280 million spam messages to his company servers.
Preston said Kramer has won other lawsuits but, in many cases, has been unable to collect his awards.
“This is something we intend to fully pursue in collection efforts,” Preston said.
An attorney for the defendants could not be reached for comment.