Yahoo Awarded $610 Million From E-mail Scammers Who Told Internet Users They Won the Lottery

Yahoo Logo - H 2011

Yahoo Logo - H 2011

The online giant's name and logo was used for years by Nigerian and Thai criminals who stole money and account numbers from naive victims.

It took a while, but after five years and nearly 12 million obviously nefarious e-mails alerting readers they've won lots of money, Yahoo has been awarded a massive judgment against a host of Nigerian and Thai scam artists who have sullied the portal's good name. Collecting, though, is another matter.

Yahoo said Wednesday that a court has awarded it a $610 million default judgment against several defendants who didn't bother responding to the accusations that they engaged in fraud.

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Yahoo catalogued scads of e-mail alerts from the defendants between 2006 and 2009 that promised users that they had won "one million United State dollars." Those whose suspicions weren't sufficiently raised by an e-mail that spelled the name of a major country wrong sometimes provided bank account and credit card numbers because the fraudsters told them such information was necessary for them to collect their winnings. Some even sent money for processing and mailing charges.

The e-mails had Yahoo's logo on them and claimed to originate from "Division of Yahoo Internet Lottery," a unit of "Yahoo!! International Lottery Organization" in Bangkok, Thailand. The emails asked recipients to contact a "prize coordinator" or some such other representative that usually had "Professor," "Reverand," "Doctor" or "Barrister" in front of their name.

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"Defendants distributed 146 different types of e-mails that included 795 violations of counterfeited Yahoo marks," according to the complaint.

Yahoo, which sued in 2008, said it was awarded $27 million for trademark infringement and $583 million in statutory damages, plus attorney fees.