For overweight lovers of pornography in need of a cheap loan or a “boost”, the offers of slimming pills, Viagra, smut and the like that flood into e-mail inboxes around the world are a positive boon.
For most consumers and businesses, however, “spam” has grown over the past few years from a mere nuisance into a costly and time-consuming threat. On Tuesday August 9th, business fought back. Microsoft’s case against Scott Richter ended in victory for the software giant after the “spam king” agreed to pay $7m to settle charges relating to a lawsuit filed in 2003 against his internet firm, OptInRealBig.
Microsoft alleged that Mr Richter’s firm had sent up to 38 billion unsolicited commercial e-mails a year, offering anything from loans to herbal remedies.
Once described as the world’s leading spammer, Mr Richter claims that his firm has since cleaned up its act and now only sends offers to customers that want them. Microsoft was joined in the action by Eliot Spitzer, who for once took the side of big business (albeit in a battle with another, more unpopular business).