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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Spammer's Porsche up for grabs
Porsche Boxster S
AOL says the Porsche has "symbolic value"
Internet giant AOL has ratcheted up the war against unsolicited e-mail with a publicity-grabbing coup - an online raffle of a spammer's seized Porsche.

AOL won the car - a $47,000 Boxster S - as part of a court settlement against an unnamed e-mailer last year.

"We'll take cars, houses, boats - whatever we can find and get a hold of," said AOL's Randall Boe.

According to Mr Boe, the Porsche's previous owner made more than $1m by sending junk e-mail.

Hitting them where it hurts

AOL is one of the noisiest opponents of the evasive spam trade, and this month joined forces with Microsoft, Yahoo and Earthlink to sue hundreds of spammers.

Seizure of property is becoming a major tactic in these lawsuits, since guilty spammers often protest their inability to pay large fines.

The Porsche-owning spammer, whose identity remains confidential, was one of a group sued last year for having sent 1 billion junk messages to AOL members, pitching pornography, college degrees, cable TV descramblers and other products.

Mr Boe said the Porsche was seized mainly for its symbolic value, as the obvious fruit of an illegal trade.

The Porsche sweepstake lasts until 8 April, and will be open only to those who were AOL members when it was first announced.

The BBC's Richard Forrest
"AOL hopes the publicity will deter some spammers"

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