MICROSOFT has won a £3.9 million settlement from a businessman once billed as one of the world's most prolific spammers.
Microsoft said the money from Scott Richter and his internet company OptInRealBig.com will be used to boost efforts to combat spam and other computer misuse.
"People engage in spam to make money," Microsoft's chief counsel Brad Smith said.
He added: "We have now proven that we can take one of the most profitable spammers in the world and separate him from his money."
The deal is the second stemming from joint lawsuits Microsoft and New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed in December 2003 after Microsoft set "spam traps" that netted some 8000 messages containing 40,000 fraudulent statements. The lawsuits sought as much as $20m (11.1m) in fines against members of a sprawling spam ring.
In the settlement, Mr Richter and his company agreed to comply with federal and state laws, including "Can-Spam" - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. He pledged not to send spam to anyone who has not confirmed a willingness to receive it.