NEW YORK — Finally, some payback for all that spam:
It's a 2002 Porsche Boxster S that will be the grand prize in an America Online sweepstakes launching Tuesday.
AOL obtained the car in settling a lawsuit against "a guy who by our estimates made more than a million dollars from spamming," said Randall Boe, AOL executive vice president and general counsel.
Although the company has previously won cash judgments and destroyed computers used in spamming, Boe said the latest case "represents us moving beyond that to the toys, the fruits of spam. We'll take cars, houses, boats, whatever we can find and get a hold of."
The sweepstakes is open until April 8. Adult AOL members living in the continental United States are eligible and they can only enter online. The contest is open only to those who were AOL subscribers before the sweepstakes opened Tuesday.
The two-door silver-gray metallic Porsche has 18,000 miles, a leather interior and retails for $47,000, according to AOL.
Boe refused to offer details about the spammer, citing confidentiality terms of the settlement. He would say only that the spammer was sued in April 2003 and that the car had California plates.
In that round of five federal lawsuits, AOL targeted individuals and companies accused of sending a combined 1 billion junk messages to AOL members, pitching pornography, college degrees, cable TV descramblers and other products.
Boe said seized assets are usually in cash and go to pay lawyers, develop anti-spam technology and expand the anti-spam team. He said spammers are often forced to sell houses or other tangible assets.
AOL made an exception in this case and took the car because of its "symbolic value," Boe said. "Here was a spammer who made some money fast. He bought himself a Porsche."
Boe said he hoped the publicity would deter spammers, though he acknowledged it won't stop spam altogether.
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