EarthLink puts stop to 'Alabama spammers'

Two alleged spammers end a lawsuit brought by the ISP by agreeing to stop sending more junk e-mail and to pay a cash settlement.

EarthLink has claimed victory in a lawsuit it filed against two people alleged to have run a massive spam e-mail operation.

The Internet service provider said Tuesday that the defendants, Damon DeCrescenzo and David Burstyn, have agreed to comply with a court order forbidding them from sending further unsolicited e-mail. The settlement also requires the men, known as the "Alabama Spammers," to pay an undisclosed cash settlement to EarthLink.

"Filing lawsuits against alleged spammers and seeking court orders that put them out of business is an important way that EarthLink helps preserve the integrity of the Internet for all users," Larry Slovensky, assistant general counsel for EarthLink, said in a statement.

Over the past several years, Atlanta-based EarthLink has become an aggressive player in the fight against spammers, which constitute a considerable nuisance for ISPs by clogging up bandwidth and angering customers. The Internet company said it will continue to seek litigation against those it feels are responsible for targeting its customers with unsolicited e-mail.

In February 2004, EarthLink brought its case against DeCrescenzo and Burstyn in the U.S. District Court of Atlanta, charging the two men with masterminding a "massive scheme of theft, spamming and spoofing." The lawsuit alleged that the defendants used a system of false names, addresses and corporate entities to cloak their efforts, which included sending spam to direct people to Web sites that advertised products such as Viagra, herbal supplements and adult matchmaking services.

In the suit, EarthLink alleged that DeCrescenzo and Burstyn were members of the so-called "Alabama Spam Ring," which gained its name from the defendants' practice of using phone lines in and around Birmingham, Ala., to execute their schemes. At the time, DeCrescenzo was ranked as one of the world's top spammers on The Spamhaus Project's Register of Known Spam Operations.

EarthLink charged the defendants with violating federal and state laws, including civil organized crime statutes, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act. The lawsuit said that the men used falsified credit cards and committed identity theft and banking fraud, among other illegal activities, in order to purchase Internet accounts and broadcast their spam campaigns.

Last month, an Iowa-based ISP, CIS Internet Services, was awarded more than $1 billion in what is believed to be the largest court judgment ever against spammers. The U.S. District Court of Iowa ordered AMP Dollar Savings of Mesa, Ariz., to pay $720 million to CIS and its owner Robert Kramer, and told Cash Link Systems of Miami to pay the company $360 million. Another accused spammer, Florida-based TEI Marketing Group, was ordered to pay the company $140,000.

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