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Microsoft to fight crime with spammer's money

Software giant will also give New York state some of the $7 million culled from the company's settlement with Scott Richter.

2 min read
Software giant Microsoft will invest the $7 million it is expecting from a damages settlement with "spam king" Scott Richter into fighting Internet crimes, paying its legal bills and "rewarding" the state of New York.

The announcement was made by Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in an open letter posted on the company's Web site.

After covering its legal expenses, Microsoft will dedicate $5 million to helping law enforcement agencies address computer-related crimes, Smith said.

"In appreciation of the role of the New York attorney general, another $1 million of this settlement money will be directed to New York state...to expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults," he said in the letter.

Describing Richter--who is said to have sent or assisted others in sending more than 38 billion e-mails a year--as one of the world's most "prolific" spammers, Smith called the settlement a milestone and expressed hope the decision would send a clear warning to those dabbling in spamming.

Richter could have paid a fraction of the millions if he had settled at the end of 2004 when Microsoft allegedly offered to settle the dispute for $100,000.

Then, Richter said: "We told them where they could go stick it. It's nothing but harassment. It's free publicity for them. They pay a few thousand bucks to file the lawsuits. They get a bunch of free press, and people sign up for their spam-fighting products."

At the end of March, Richter filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for his e-mail marketing company, OptInRealBig.com. One condition of the settlement with Microsoft was that Richter would file a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings.

Munir Kotadia of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.