The couple that spams together gets successfully sued together.

This week a federal court ordered spam marketing husband-and-wife team Henry Perez and Suzanne Bartok to pay a small Internet service provider (ISP) more than $236 million for sending out some 23 million emails advertising loan refinancing services. The messages were sent to the servers at CIS Internet Services in 2003–using the ironically-titled program called Bulk Mailing 4 Dummies.

Happily, this is just the latest news about spammers getting theirs. What I like about this story is that the little guy (CIS is a tiny ISP based in Clinton, Iowa) is fighting spammers one at a time–and winning. CIS’ triumph in the U.S. District Court in Davenport marks the tenth lawsuit in which it has prevailed, company owner Robert Kramer III said. Mr. Kramer has been at it for years: Wins include a $11.2 billion judgement against a Miami spammer in 2006, and a combined judgement of $1 billion after winning lawsuits against three spammers in 2005.

Mr. Kramer said during the most recent trial that the spam messages cut into his company’s bandwidth, making it harder for his customers to go on the Internet and costing CIS a lot of business. The number of CIS clients dropped from 5,000 in 2001 to 1,200 by late 2004.

For CIS, the drop was significant enough to prompt Mr. Kramer to go after those who messed with his bread and butter. Nevertheless, his successful lawsuits should prompt larger ISPs to follow through in their own anti-spammer actions. Even if it’s unlikely Mr. Kramer will collect the cash judgements owed him, he’s won on another front: CIS now gets only 10 to 15 million spam messages daily, down significantly from the 500 million it did in 2003.

Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager

“I’d rather you text me”