Yahoo Awarded $610 Million in Spam Email Case

Yahoo was awarded $610 million in damages this week from a group of Thai and Nigerian scammers who used its name to spam thousands of victims with emails about a fake lottery. The suit, filed in 2008, named a series of individuals and a Taiwanese corporation operating in Thailand and Nigeria, though none of the named defendants have responded to the allegations, making it unlikely that Yahoo will ever actually collect any of the damages awarded.

According to Yahoo’s complaint, the group of scammers sent more than 11.6 million spam emails through its email system between December 2006 and May 2009. The emails, made to look like Yahoo sent them, falsely informed recipients that they had won a lottery, and directed them to a website where they were asked to provide personal information. The court awarded Yahoo $50 per email, for a total of $583 million, plus another $27 million for trademark infringement. The defendants were also ordered to pay Yahoo’s legal expenses in the case.

Should Yahoo ever manage to collect the award, it would be a huge boost for the struggling Internet portal, considering the company earned just $1.2 billion in profits last year. Unfortunately, the ruling does not hold any legal bearing in Thailand or Nigeria, where the scammers are believed to be based.