WASHINGTON -- AOL is preparing to dig for buried gold and platinum on property in a Boston suburb owned by the parents of a man it sued for sending millions of unwanted spam e-mails to its customers.
AOL said yesterday it intends to search for gold and platinum bars the firm believes are hidden near the home of Davis Wolfgang Hawke's parents on two acres in Medfield. The family says it will fight AOL's plan.
AOL won a $12.8 million judgment last year in US District Court in Virginia against Hawke but has been unable to contact him to collect. AOL accused Hawke of violating federal and state antispam laws by sending unwanted e-mails to its subscribers and won its case in a default judgment against Hawke, who didn't show up in court.
``I don't care if they dig up the entire yard. They're just going to make fools of themselves," said Peggy Greenbaum, Hawke's mother. ``There's absolutely no reason for them to think that Davis Hawke would be stupid enough to bury gold on our property. My son is long gone."
At the height of Hawke's activities, experts say, Hawke and his partners earned more than $600,000 a month by sending unwanted pitches over the Internet for loans, pornography, jewelry, and prescription drugs.
Hawke attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where he led a neo-Nazi group called the Knights of Freedom from the computer in his dorm room. He told a South Carolina newspaper in 1999 that he changed his name from Andrew Britt Greenbaum because he was tired of having a Jewish-sounding name.
Greenbaum said the family believes Hawke buried gold in the White Mountains, 130 miles north of Boston.