Facebook Wins $873 Million Judgment Against Spammer

Slav Kandyba
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered a Canadian man who allegedly flooded Facebook with more than 4 million sexually explicit spam messages earlier this year to pay $873 million to the company.

The award is the largest judgment in history for a case brought under the CAN-SPAM Act, which prohibits false and misleading marketing emails. The venue was U.S. District Court in San Francisco, with Judge Jeremy Fogel presiding.

The judge’s award is for $437 million for statutory damages and $437 million for aggravated statutory damages. CAN-SPAM allows for damages of up to $11,000 per violation.

The alleged culprit, Adam Guerbuez of Montreal, has been difficult to find since Facebook filed suit four months ago. Still, Facebook is hoping the size of the judgment will scare off other spammers.

At the center of Facebook’s claim was that Guerbuez’ Atlantis Blue Capital, a business that allegedly fooled its users into providing him with their usernames and passwords. One method was the use of fake websites that posed as legitimate destinations.

After gaining access to user's personal profiles, Guerbuez in March and April sent more than 4 million messages that promoted marijuana and penis enlargement products, according to Facebook’s lawsuit.

Facebook’s lawyers argued in the case on behalf of the Palo Alto-based private company that "despite the resources dedicated to spam eradication, current available technology does not permit Facebook to completely prevent the transmission of spam on its site."

Facebook’s victory was preceded by that of its competitor, MySpace, which in May was awarded $234 million in its case against two spammers.