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Spamming and Spoofing

RustNet, Inc. v. Benjamin and Randall Bawkon, United States District Court for the District of Eastern Michigan.


Unlike most ISP/spammer litigation, this case did not arise from the spammers use of the plaintiff ISPs’ equipment. Here, RustNet filed suit because the defendants’ spam contained a RustNet spoofed return address which RustNet alleged was damaging its reputation and causing a loss of customers. The case was recently settled by the parties. As part of that agreement neither party may comment on the settlement or lawsuit.


Sixteen year old Benjamin Bawkon and his father, Randall, sent hundreds of thousands of e-mail messages promoting a get rich quick scheme. The e-mail asked recipients interested in selling “multilevel marketing reports” to send $5.00 to the Bawkon Development Corporation. The Bawkons did not use RustNet’s servers or network to send their spam.


RustNet filed suit based on the Bawkons spoofing of the spam with the return address “Money@Rust.Net.” According to RustNet, the spoofed return address caused damage to its reputation in the business community and with consumers and also resulted in a quantifiable loss of at least 50 RustNet customers.


After filing suit, RustNet moved for a temporary restraining order seeking to preclude further spoofing, pending a full hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction. The order was allowed after a hearing. In addition, the court granted RustNet’s request for access to the Bawkon’s home in order to copy the defendants’ computer records which might be used as evidence in any future proceedings.


The parties recently settled out of court. As part of that settlement the parties have agreed not to comment on the litigation or the terms of the settlement.

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