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“Fakebook” spammer fined over $873 million under CAN-SPAM Act!

by Andrew O'Halloran, Chief Privacy Officer

Friday, November 25th, 2008 could easily have been called a "black friday" for spammers. On that day the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California handed down a landmark judgment resulting in a record $873 million fine against Atlantis Blue Capital and Adam Guerbuez, both of Montreal. Atlantis Blue Capital and Adam Guerbuez will also be required to pay reasonable attorney fees and the court costs, pushing the total closer to the $1 billion mark (read the full judgement)

According to Facebook, Guerbuez used legitimate Facebook account information garnered through phishing sites and other methods to send millions of spam messages to Facebook users promoting a variety of products and services, including pornography. Facebook brought suit against Guerbuez in August resulting in the recent judgement.

Mailing outside the U.S. doesn't protect the spammer

What makes this judgement so important is that Guerbuez/Atlantis do not operate in the United States. They are based in Montreal and Canada does nothave an equivalent law to the CAN-SPAM Act. What the judgement said, simply put, is if your commercial related electronic messages are directed to U.S.-based recipients, then CAN-SPAM applies to you. Period. It should also be pointed out that both Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital were held “jointly and severally” liable. The corporate veil did not protect Guerbuez from being liable.

Don't mess with the brand...

Obviously, Facebook is very happy with the decision, even though the company acknowledges that the full amount of the judgement will likely never be collected.

Thank you, Guerbuez!

I believe, however, regardless of the amount collected, all permission-based email marketers should be glad that Guerbuez got bagged. The spam sent by Guerbuez from “fake” Facebook users did more than damage Facebook’s reputation and brand. The large judgement in this case recognizes this. But Guerbuez' actions also hurt all reputable online marketers. Responsible online marketers know the importance of brand and the effort, time, and money it takes to develop a meaningful one.

Take note...

So if there's a positive outcome to the Guerbuez/Atlantis judgement, it should be to remind us of the importance of brand in the success of email marketing campaigns. His $873 million dollar judgement should prompt everybody to make a careful review your mailing and newsletter brand strategy beginning with the "From" line right on through "Subject", the creative design, content, link placement, and opt-out information. If you responsible marketers carefully guard their craft, practices like those of Guerbuez will always stand out as unacceptable.

If adhering to CAN-SPAM regulations scrares your socks off, then let Cypra Media do your email marketing for you! Find out how easy and affordable our services are.

Or contact Cypra today for a free consultation and email marketing assessment.