Meet the Guy Who Quit His Job to Sue Spammers

Daniel Balsam used to be a marketer. Then he found something he wanted to do more: Sue spammers for a living. So he quit his job and went to law school—and he's made $1 million doing it.

You want to know how great America is? This is how great America is: Not only can you make a living off of peoples' penis-size insecurities, you can also make a living—a good living!—by suing those same people. Like Dan Balsam:

From San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Balsam, based in San Francisco, has filed many lawsuits, including dozens before he graduated law school in 2008, against e-mail marketers he says violate anti-spamming laws.

His many victories are mere rain drops in the ocean considering that Cisco Systems Inc. estimates that there are 200 billion spam messages circulating a day, accounting for 90 percent of all e-mail.

Still, Balsam settles enough lawsuits and collects enough from judgments to make a living. He has racked up well in excess of $1 million in court judgments and lawsuit settlements with companies accused of sending illegal spam.

And like any real American, Balsam has mortal enemy: Defense lawyer Bennet Kelley, who created a website to rival Balsam's (www.danhatesspam.com was the original; Kelly's version was www.danhatespam.com). Kelley says that Balsam is "exploiting" the anti-spam laws under which he files his lawsuits.

Balsam usually sues based on violations of California's anti-spam laws, which makes it illegal for companies to fake noncommercial email headers and subject lines (one he received four times was "Hello my name is Rebecca, I love you") and requires that companies provide "opt-out" options. (He has more than 100 email addresses, theoretically to better position himself for lawsuits.)

Exploitation? Probably! But it's hard to find sympathy for spammers. And it wouldn't be this great country without a little bit of exploitation.

[ABC; photo via AP]