MySpace wins $234 million against spammers

MySpace has won $234 million (120 million) in damages over junk messages - thought to be the largest ever fine given for spamming, according to news reports.

The judgement was awarded after the junk mailers responsible, Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines, failed to show up in a Los Angeles court.

It was thought that MySpace would have a tough time collecting the money as it was difficult for service providers to collect.

However it was thought that the judgement would be a warning to other spammers.

"Anybody who's been thinking about engaging in spam are going to say, 'wow, I better not go there," said MySpace's chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam to the Associated Press.

"Spammers don't want to be prosecuted. They are there to make money. It's our job to send a message to stop them."

The junk mailers created MySpace accounts or took over existing ones by stealing passwords through phishing.

With the accounts, they e-mailed MySpace members to look like it came from friends they knew or trusted.

Usually the e-mail asked members to view a video or visit a website, and the junk mailers made money through selling something, like ringtones, or made money off advertising based on the number of hits.

MySpace said that the two sent more than 700,000 messages to its members. In the US, a CAN-SPAM anti-spam law means each violation would entitle MySpace $100 (50) in damages.