California Man Sues Spammers for a Living, Nets $1M

Dennis Faas's picture

After receiving an unsolicited email message (spam), most people would delete the suspicious message without giving it a second thought. One California man, however, is not only welcoming the prospect, but has been able to trap spammers for financial compensation, making a healthy living in the process.

After being bombarded with spam on a daily basis, Dan Balsam had an idea: he would quit his job in the marketing field and go to law school in an attempt to fight those responsible for unsolicited email advertisements and messages. Since 2002, Balsam has fought, won and settled his way to over $1 million in compensation en route to supporting himself exclusively from this practice.

Spammers Violate California Law

The lawsuits are filed against parties violating California anti-spam law, which states that it is illegal to distribute emails with "falsified, misrepresented or forged header information". This includes misleading subject lines and tags. Most recently, Balsam was awarded $7,000 from a company that sent out spam that users could not opt out of. (Source:

Critics argue that most spammers reside outside of California, and therefore, should not be bound by California law. In most cases, spammers tend to settle out of court rather than endure the hassle of fighting a lawsuit.

According to defense lawyer Bennet Kelly, while the fight against spam is a noble task, he contends that the methods used by Balsam are less than heroic. Kelly states that "He really seems to be trying to twist things for a buck. There is nothing wrong per se with being an anti-spam crusader, but Dan abuses the processes by using small claims court." (Source:

Spam Fighter Owns Over 100 Email Addresses

In a recent case, a judge revealed that Balsam tended to "stack the deck" in increasing the likelihood of being the chosen recipient of a spam email. According to the judge, Balsam has over 100 email accounts registered to his name. While some might view this as entrapment, Balsam maintains that there is no crime against holding a multitude of email addresses.

The concept of suing spammers for a living might seem risky to most people, but with a reported 95 per cent of all emails being considered spam, Balsam may have a better business plan than most traditional businesses.

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