Canadian Spammer Who Ignored US Judgment Discovers Canadian Courts Are Willing To Uphold US Rulings

from the spam-spam-spam-spam dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about how Canadian spammer Adam Guerbuez had lost a lawsuit in the US brought by Facebook, alleging he spammed millions of accounts. He didn't just ignore the ruling; he gleefully mocked it on his own blog, playing up the huge amount ($873 million) the court awarded Facebook and referring to himself as the "$873 million man." Apparently, he didn't count on the news that a Canadian court would uphold the ruling and order him to pay. With some additional damages and the Canadian exchange rate, he apparently owes Facebook $1,068,928,721.46. I'm going to assume that this is more than he has -- though, I would imagine all of the photos on his blog highlighting himself living the good life probably won't help. In fact, now he's claiming that he's declared bankruptcy, so he's still not planning on paying. Again, all those photos on the site... might not look so good in bankruptcy court. That said, a billion dollar fine is a ridiculous amount for spam, no matter how annoying you believe spam might be.


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  1.  
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    Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    Mixed feelings

    I have to say I both love and hate this.

    I HATE spammers, so it's great that this idiot got caught and has some sort of punishment coming.

    But $873 MILLION for spamming??? What the heck was that judge smoking? Is this seriously considered an ok punishment for this kind of crime, or is it because it's based on how many ppl he actually spammed?

     

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  2.  
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    Jason, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    One Bihllyun Dohllars...

    "That said, a billion dollar fine is a ridiculous amount for spam, no matter how annoying you believe spam might be."

    Especially when bludgeoning would be so much more...poetic...musical...contemplative...calming? Mmmmm..

     

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  3.  
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    SomeWhiteGuy, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:49am

    Odd punitive damages.

    From one of the linked articles it mentions that he was "fined $100 US for each of the 4,366,386 spam messages that were posted onto Facebook profiles in March and April 2008." It also mentions that after "punitive damages" and some astronomical exchange rate apparently he owes $1,068,928,721.46. I think this is more political pandering than anything. Yes, spam is annoying, but a $1B worth?

     

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    Comboman (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    How Facebook determined the amount to sue for

    A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? 1.069 BILLION dollars.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    Canadian court uphold ruling

    nothing new. Easily done with a US court judgement.

    With the bankruptcy, I am surprised facebook continued to go court. There was nothing to be gained.

     

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  6.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:03am

    so he goes bankrupt ....

    ends up on welfare
    who garnishes 26$ maximum per month off his check for life
    312$ per year.....
    3,426,282 years ahead of payments.

    I wonder that far ahead if we will need copyright with robots doing all the work?

     

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  7.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    It's play money, but the principle will be turned to general use.

    Defending a spammer is difficult -- I don't, and that's why undesirables are chosen to introduce draconian "laws". Because "crime" is such a lucrative field for gov'ts, one should always demand proportionality in punishment. -- Obviously, only thing to be done facing $873 million judgment is to ignore it.

    So the interesting point is that Canada enforces it. First, I hope that US courts don't start similarly enforcing Canadian "law", because contrary to general opinion, Canada has some of the most police-state "laws" on the planet. Doesn't surprise me that Canada would make its citizens "subject" to foreign law, though. That's the overarching police-state principle that's being put in place with this.

     

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  8.  
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    Jamie, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    One million dollars

    I can just hear Austin Powers saying, "one million dollars, ah ah ah ah" and number "two" correcting him. Why not "100 billion dollars!!! ah ah ah"

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Re: One Bihllyun Dohllars...

    Better yet, why can't judges be more creative on this stuff? Why not have the guy forced to wear a suit made of Hormel Spam for the rest of his life? Sort of a Lady Gaga type of deal.

    Except, you know, maybe make him live out the rest of his life in a forest preserve in Canada, with the Kodiak bears, wolves, and sasquatches....

     

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  10.  
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    cc (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Re: One million dollars

    Dr Evil, you mean?

    Speaking of Dr Evil, heads up: ACTA has been released!

     

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  11.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Spammers can rot in hell...

    Spending the majority of my IT career Admining Email servers and then security and spam blocking software...I say the majority of that money should go to me. I will gladly take my share out of his hide.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: One Bihllyun Dohllars...

    I think the word you are looking for is cathartic :)

     

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  13.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    The award amount is actually comparatively small

    Consider that 47 U.S.C. 227(a)(4), which deals with junk faxes, stipulates a penalty of $500/fax and notes that willful/knowing violation may triple that amount. (I trust that in this particular case, it's blindingly obvious that the messages were sent willfully and knowingly.)

    So I think $1500 per individual spam message is far more reasonable than the mere $100 he was assessed.

    But of course the debate over the amount is entirely academic. He will evade collection, or will settle for a token sum, dissolve his business and/or declare bankruptcy, then relocate, reform and restart it in another location and/or under another name and get right back to work. It's far, far too profitable for anyone to stop...which is why, as I've pointed out before, there is no such thing as an "ex-spammer".

    I also trust that everyone is cognizant of the irony of Facebook going after a spammer.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re: so he goes bankrupt ....

    Laugh about this now, but it won't be so funny when the Corporate Recovery Automation Propaganda (CRAP) gets passed, which will allow corporations to tie judgements like this one to the entire family rather than a single individual (to simplify their recovery), and adds this type of lawsuit settlement to the list of exclusions from bankruptcy proceedings (similar to student loans).

    Then the corporations will be the ones laughing, as the next 34,262 generations pay off this debt....

    Think this is sarcasm? Just give it a few more years.....

     

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  15.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: One Bihllyun Dohllars...

    Don't know about in Canada, but here in the states I'm pretty sure that would fall under the "cruel and unusual punishment" restriction. Emphasis on unusual.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Judging from his pictures, he'll be dead from heart failure before all this comes to an end.

     

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  17.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re: Odd punitive damages.

    Well, the billion is worked out say on even a Canadian buck being worth 97 cents US that 873 million rides up to over a billion in a hurry.

    The ruling Facebook asked the Quebec court to enforce the penalty for came from a US court based on US Laws.

    For all that, though, these kinds of cross jurisdictional enforcement orders are usually aimed at dead beat dads not this kind of idiot.

     

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  18.  
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    infowars, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    The point is

    That they can spam your real mail box with all the dead trees they kill and thats ok because it makes them money for stamps and shit.. Yet you or I send one spam email and its a billion dollar fine.. WTF..

    The TYRANNY is thick these days..

     

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  19.  
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    iNtrigued (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: so he goes bankrupt ....

    Ah, but there is always a way around the law. It usually requires substantial sums of money but in this case, it could be bypassed by merely not procreating. No kids, no future generations. This is of course assuming you have no other family members. For instance, being an orphan would qualify.

     

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  20.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    He now must pay 1.21 jigowatts!

     

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  21.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: It's play money, but the principle will be turned to general use.

    One minor little detail here.

    Cross jurisdictional enforcement orders in civil cases started to become common in the 1980s as divorced women with children sought to enforce separation agreements or divorce settlements when, say, the dead beat dad ran away from Vancouver and landed in Edmonton in Alberta.

    Sometime in the 90s it became cross border with the United States where US courts would enforce such settlements rendered in Canada where the dead beat dad ran off from Vancouver to, say, Seattle. And Canadian courts would grant enforcement orders in the same circumstances in Canada rendered in the United States. In both cases the order requires a judicial review in open court before it's granted.

    Something to do with NAFTA, if my memory is working.

    The fly in the otherwise good ointment is that no one foresaw this sort of situation as Canadian courts rarely, if ever, enforce some of the more extreme rulings that come from some US courts. Until now.

    Of course, no one foresaw there would be such an idiot as Guerbuez who would continue to pull the lion's tail after the first mauling. Streisand effect, remember?

    If he'd have shut is yap we probably wouldn't be here.

    Remember that this isn't an enforcement of US law in Canada it's the enforcement of a legitimate court order from an American court.

    And I'll bet dollars to donuts that this thing will be appealed.

    BTW, in Quebec French common law holds sway from the time that France lost their North American colonies to Britain rather than the English common law base which the rest of Canada and the United States base their civil law on.

     

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  22.  
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    Canadian Tax Payer, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Canadian Tax Payer

    As a Canadian Tax Payer I hope Quebec has the money to pay this bill. This idiot is never going to pay the bill and it simply leaves us Canadians on the hook to pay Mark an extra billion this year in party bonuses.

    Is FaceBook really worth the effort? If the website wasn't used by idiots this idiot would never have succeeded in spamming with his idiotic ads.

    Boy the idiots.

     

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  23.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: One Bihllyun Dohllars...

    Nahh, pack him up and tell him he's moving to Alert to work off his debt. It's on paradise called Ellsemere Island.

     

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  24.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re: Canadian Tax Payer

    C'mon here.

    The order is against Guerbuez not the people and government of Canada (or Quebec) so we aren't on the hook for a damned thing.

    As I said this thing is on it's way to the Supreme Court of Canada because we do have little rules in Canada about excessive civil awards which the lower court judge appears to have ignored.

     

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  25.  
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    SuperSparky, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Actions have consequences

    I don't believe $1B is ridiculous. This guy knew the risks and consequences for his actions. He pushed it to the limit and beyond. He thumbed his nose at the law and made his own choices. His choice brought upon him the consequences for that choice.

    The moral to this is actions have consequences, even severe consequences.

    If you ran a factory, which employed workers based on your ability to collect a profit off of your products, and some jackass came into the middle of your factory and set up a booth selling ShamWows and other booths selling other junk, pasting flyers and stickers on your product's packaging, interrupting your workers, disrupting the manufacturing process by shutting off or moving machines, shoving security guards out of the way; AND their actions not only annoy you but your workers and your customers, even scaring some away, then don't you think that punishment should not only be for the interruptions, but also to prevent another jerk from doing that to some other company and their customers?

    No, have the jerk pay for his own facilities and advertising legitimately. No, he committed theft; theft of bandwidth and theft of customer list. He stole earned profit away from their legitimate customers.

    I say take everything away from him and only leave his underwear. He made that choice.

     

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  26.  
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    Bengie, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    They should be remove fines for this kind of stuff

    They should replace fines with "Everything you own is now ours".. except 5*Average Yearly Wage. If the average wage is $80k per year, then he gets to keep $400k worth of his stuff or money and EVERYTHING ELSE is is now government property.

    If government acquired stuff is useful for charities, it should be all donated.

     

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  27.  
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    kstahmer (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Keep him busy

    O Canada, you did the right thing.

    Yes, it's a preposterously large judgment, which Guerbuez will never pay. And that's not final judgment. It'll be orders of magnitude smaller.

    But while Guerbuez is desperately trying to weasel out of paying, Canada and the United States will be aggressively pursuing his assets, which will keep him extremely busy, which will severely curtail his spamming.

    So I'm all for this judgment, no matter how preposterous.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    @ "no one foresaw"...[this with NAFTA].

    Oh, you're WAY wrong on that. This is exactly the cross-border mingling of "laws" predicted by those of us with a little foresight. We only look at the stated goals and believe what's in plain black and white text. The particular vermin used to initiate this as matter-of-course doesn't matter, sheerly random, if not him, then another. Point is that the principle is being established and will eventually become a merging of "legal" systems, destroying sovereignty, making Americans "subject" to foreign "laws". I foresee LOTS more of such.

    I suppose it's good that your Supreme whatsit will look at it, but may only chisel it into granite. You already admit that a lower court should have tossed it, so I say the FIX is in on the system already.

     

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  29.  
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    Irving, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Canadian court uphold ruling

    Actually, bankruptcy doesn't get you out of debts owed as a result of a court judgement.

    He may no longer have to pay the phone bill, but he will still be on the hook for this one.

     

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  30.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    A Billion Dollars Is Reasonable

    "That said, a billion dollar fine is a ridiculous amount for spam, no matter how annoying you believe spam might be."

    What is the cost in terms of man hours of spam. I am willing to bet that lost productivity is far more than a billion dollars. The fine is reasonable.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 - (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  31.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Would A US Court Uphold A Canadian Ruling?

    Answers on a postcard please.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    Re: @ "no one foresaw"...[this with NAFTA].

    > destroying sovereignty, making Americans "subject" to foreign "laws".

    I believe you will find most people are worried about foreigners being subject to USA laws, not the opposite.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

    Ridiculous?

    "That said, a billion dollar fine is a ridiculous amount for spam, no matter how annoying you believe spam might be."

    I disagree. I think it is a perfectly reasonable judgement. We're not just talking about the annoyance value here. We're also talking about lost productivity from workers deleting those spam messages, system admins trying to block those messages, server storage space while the messages are in transit, money paid for software to help block spam messages, and so on. This guy has cost a lot of people a lot of money. What he is being fined is not nearly as ridiculous as how long he will probably be able to avoid paying any of it.

     

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  34.  
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    Deci, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 2:53am

    Seems fair

    It's a per infraction judgment. If the RIAA can get 750$ per song, you should certainly get 100$ per spam message.

    It's his own problem he sent about 4.5 million of them.

     

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  35.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Re: @ "no one foresaw"...[this with NAFTA].

    It was forseen in many ways with NAFTA but not in this one.

    As for your incredible knowledge of the Canadian legal system could you please tell me what you base that on? It's certainly not first, second or third hand knowledge of how we do things up here. Rumours, maybe, but not much if any facts.

    As for our court system, it's not perfect any more than the US court system is.

    As a Canadian I haven't the slightest interest in "inflicting" our legal system on you or any other American unless you happen to do something stupid, illegal or both in Canada and are subject to our laws. Same as I'd expect if I did either or both in the United States.

    As for police state laws, or potential ones, I really want to point you at the Patriot Act. At least we still operate with the doctrine of habeas corpus in full effect which the Patriot Act knackered.

    I don't think it's likely that Supreme Court would uphold this if it gets that far, as I said, it violates precedent in that damage enforcement requests by American courts to Canadian courts have be "reasonable" as the Supreme Court has defined them and this certainly isn't.

    The guy that posted after this last outbreak of paranoia of yours is right. We (and Mexico) are far more concerned with having some of your more idiotic laws imposed on us. So far, outside of softwood lumber, that hasn't happened.

    And, for your information, enforcement orders are routinely granted on both sides of the Canada-US border AFTER they've been heard in open court in the proper jurisdiction in either Canada or the USA.

    You sound like a One World Government nutter, you know.

     

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