AOL Decides to Seize Assets From Convicted Spammer

AOL to hunt down spammer's gold

AOL says a convicted spammer may have hidden half a million dollars in gold and platinum on his parents' property, and the company is going after it.

The online division of Time Warner Inc. said on Wednesday it aims to recover assets awarded to it in a judgment against Davis Hawke, who sent at least 130,000 unsolicited junk e-mails to AOL subscribers over three months in 2004.

AOL said it is owed $12.8 million from a May 2005 judgment awarded by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

It said it had evidence and reason to believe that $500,000 in gold and platinum bars are located at Hawke's parents' home in Medfield, Massachusetts.

"We won't be happy at just winning a judgment, but also to secure those assets and plow them back to safety and security efforts for our members," AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said.

AOL has waged a legal and public war against junk e-mail senders, or spammers, who have plagued e-mail services globally.

In recent years, AOL has recovered Hummers, Porsche sports cars, gold coins and other property worth millions of dollars from convicted spammers, and reinvested it in a spam-fighting campaign, the company said.

Hawke's parents could not be reached for comment. AOL said it had not been able to reach Hawke.

The Associated Press quoted Hawke's mother Peggy Greenbaum as saying Hawke's assets were not located on the parents' property, where Hawke's grandparents also live.

The parents plan to challenge AOL's plans to search the property, the AP said.

AOL's Graham said the search of Hawke's parents home will be assisted by sonar and radar equipment to minimize damage.

"We've used every means to get in touch with defendants," Graham said. "Those attempts have been rebuffed."

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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