Facebook spammer tries to cash in on $873 million fine

A Canadian court has upheld a $873 million ruling against a publicity-hungry Montreal man

Facebook calls him a spammer and a U.S. court has fined him $873 million. But Montreal's Adam Guerbuez doesn't seem to care; he calls himself the $873 million man and says he won't pay a cent.

Last week, Quebec Superior Court upheld a November 2008 U.S. judgment against Guerbuez after he was found guilty of sending out more than 4 million penis-enlargement, marijuana and pornographic spam messages via Facebook. It was the largest-ever award under the U.S.'s federal antispam law.

In a Sept. 28 judgment, Justice Lucie Fournier ruled that the U.S. judgement was enforceable, and ordered Guerbuez to pay CDN$1.069 billion -- the Canadian dollar equivalent of the fine back in 2008. He's also banned from using Facebook.

Guerbuez did not respond to a request for comment -- on his blog he said he is being bombarded with media requests -- but earlier this week he told the Canadian Press that he has filed for bankruptcy and doesn't have to pay anything to Facebook.

Instead, he hopes to convert his notoriety into a book or movie deal.

In its court filings, Facebook said Guerbuez stole passwords through phishing attacks and used a botnet of hacked computers to access Facebook accounts without authorization. If true, that would make his actions subject to a criminal prosecution in addition to the civil judgment against him.

But he seems happy with the attention. He has called a press conference for Wednesday and filled his blog with posts that show him living the high life in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, and dining out at pricey restaurants such as Montreal's Queue De Cheval.

Facebook asked the Canadian court to uphold the U.S. judgment against Guerbuez after he failed to show to fight the charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The company said Tuesday that it was reviewing the Canadian ruling, but provided a statement saying: "We're confident that the previous ruling will act as a powerful deterrent against those who would abuse Facebook."

After the U.S. judgment was upheld, Guerbuez wrote on his website: "I look forward to some solid press as history has been made, yet once again."

Guerbuez seems to be obsessed with his status as the U.S.'s most heavily fined spammer. There is an eerie video on his website of a trophy with a hologram of Guerbuez's head inside it, and a celebratory blog post encouraging media to contact him following his listing in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest fine under the CAN SPAM act. "If you wish to discuss a book deal or film project, you can contact me as well," he wrote.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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