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AOL takes revenge on spammer with Porsche prize draw

LONDON - America Online has seized an almost-new Porsche Boxster from what it calls a major spammer and is now giving AOL members the chance to win the car in a sweepstake.

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AOL says that the prize is a reward for users who have reported the illegal spam that lead to a lawsuit against the unnamed spammer. It was one of five suits filed by AOL in a US federal court in April last year, based on leads arising from members who clicked on the company's "Report Spam" button.

The prize is impressive: a 2002 Porsche Boxster S Cabriolet 2-door, with a 3.2-litre, 250-horsepower engine, manual transmission, seal-grey metallic exterior and tan leather interior, and a Bose music system. It is described by the carmaker as "the most powerful roadster that Porsche has ever created". In the UK it would be worth £32,000

Randall Boe, AOL's executive vice-president and general counsel, said: "AOL has always placed our members in the driver's seat when it comes to spam fighting, and now we are going to put one of our members in the driver's seat of a spammer's sports car. We see this as a great way to teach spammers a lesson and reward our members for their continued use of the 'Report Spam' button."

The sweepstake is open to US AOL members and begins today, ending on April 8. The winner is to be selected in a random draw.

Since 1996, AOL has filed 28 lawsuits against more than 200 individuals and corporations accused of spamming members. As a result of its efforts to help protect members from junk email, AOL has won injunctions to stop the spammers, won millions of dollars in penalties and damages, and forced spammers into bankruptcy.

Most recently, the company joined industry partners Microsoft, Earthlink, and Yahoo! to announce the first major industry civil lawsuits against hundreds of spammers using the new federal CAN-SPAM law.

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