Reno firm loses anti-spam suit brought by Earthlink

EarthLink, an Internet service provider, last week said it won a judgment against a Reno spammer who had sent out approximately 38 million email spams in a single year.

A federal judge in Atlanta awarded EarthLink an $11 million judgment against KSTM LLC for sending millions of illegal mortgage-related email advertisements nationwide, says Larry Slovensky, assistant general counsel at EarthLink.

One or two individuals are capable of sending that number of e-mails without difficulty, says Jamie Woodward, EarthLink's outside attorney at Atlanta law firm Wellborn & Wallace.

To catch a spammer, the attorneys first filed in Georgia federal court for the go-ahead to uncover the spammer's identity. Then it subpoenaed information from sources such as phone companies, mortgage companies and other Internet service providers.

The mortgage companies, who were far down the chain, were purchasing leads generated from the emails. Those leads were sold and resold into aggregate large batches, making the trail yet tougher to follow.

When the spammer is located, EarthLink then subpoenas information on its practices. For instance, attorneys might ask why it received payment for information sold. If there's evidence of spamming, EarthLink then files a lawsuit.

But even after a court awards damages, it's up to EarthLink to collect. That's not easy, either.

The people running the Reno-based KSTM LLC used a receiving company at 4231 Dant Blvd. in a southwest Reno neighborhood, says Slovensky. And an individual named in the lawsuit, Tanya Bibeau of Van Nuys, Calif., dodged the process server and disappeared.

"We aggressively pursue collection judgments like this," says Woodward.

"This judgment should be fair warning that if you spam, we will sue," says Slovensky.

The lawsuit says KSTM sent emails promoting the Web site "" and used false and misleading header information, which violates the CAN-SPAM Act. Earthlink also charges KSTM with breaking the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act and state and federal racketeering laws.

Since 1996, EarthLink has sued hundreds of spammers and won more than $200 million in judgments.

Woodward adds, "If the end result is putting spam companies out of business, we think that's a good thing."


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