A judge has awarded Yahoo $610 million in a lawsuit against spammers who sent e-mails to people falsely telling them they had won a lottery prize from Yahoo.
The federal district court judge in New York ordered defendants, whom Yahoo did not identify, on Monday to pay Yahoo $27 million for trademark infringement, $583 million for violating the Can-Spam Act, and an unreleased sum for attorney's fees.
Yahoo filed the lawsuit in 2008, alleging that spammers were using the fake lottery e-mails to defraud people. The messages were designed to trick recipients into providing their bank and other information to claim the "award," and the consumer information could then be sold, according to Yahoo's statement. In some instances, the "winners" were also deceived into sending the spammers money for processing and mailing charges, Yahoo said.
"Yahoo takes the protection of its users and its brand very seriously," said Christian Dowell, legal director of global brand protection at Yahoo. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that users continue to trust Yahoo as the leading U.S. e-mail provider."
Yahoo is unlikely to see much, if any, of the judgment award given that the defendants are located in other countries and have not responded to the complaint or appeared in court, court documents indicate.
A group of Thai and Nigerian individuals, as well as a Nigerian and a Taiwanese corporation, were named as defendants in an amended complaint, but after several settlements, two people and two corporations -- Ausdith Investments Ltd., and Alamin Industrial Corp. -- remained as defendants.
To help educate people about the dangers of such lottery spam scams, Yahoo joined up with Microsoft, Western Union, and The African Development Bank to create a Coalition to Combat Internet Lottery Scams in 2008.
Updated at 3:36 p.m. PT with information on defendants and 2:27 p.m. PT with background on a public-education coalition created in 2008.