"At least pick a figure that they might remotely have a chance of paying. I bet the poor guy who ran the ISP doesn't see a single cent."
In this case, this is not the point. The point is essentially to give someone misbehaving this badly a large financial penalty. They spammed, commited perjury (claiming they were not spamming), committed evidence tampering by destroying evidence relevant to their case. If they followed standard spammer procedure, they've probably had a lawyer file every single paper, no matter how irrelevant, to try to make the case too expensive for CIS to want to pursue; probably tried to argue spam is protected by freedom of speech; probably tried sleazy and obviously false arguments about how what they were doing technically wasn't spamming; and now, probably will be as we speak frantically moving all property to friends, maybe some new shell companies, etc. Not saying they ARE doing this, but practically every other spammer in the US that has been convicted (very few), this is what has happened with virtually all of them.
Someone could say Spamford Wallace was also a mom & pop -- he was literally one guy -- but clearly he doesn't fit the typical meaning of a "mom & pop". For that matter, the ISP is "mom & pop" too.. 5,000 subscribers in eastern iowa and western illinois (note: chicago's in eastern illinois, so this is all pretty rural).
OK, after I wrote that ---^ I googled CIS. "Spammer lands $11 billion fine - The INQUIRER" dated 2006/01/05 (don't know if that's Jan 5th or 1 May), the ietf has "[Asrg] [OT?] CIS Systems wins $1.08 billion in case against spammers Jun 1, 2005". Pretty ridiculous. BUT, in every case (this is the 10th...) the settlement calculates what was sent *to his 5000 subscriber ISP* at $10 a spam, so the amounts of spam are also pretty ridiculous. 23 million spams? Some spammers will try dictionary attacking the mail system to try to find people to spam.. [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc. ad nauseum... which could certainly add up. I certainly don't hope he'll get this much cash but he really should be compensated for having to put in extra hours and spend extra cash on mail servers just to filter out additional spam, compensated for legal time (the spamming happened in 2003.. the spammers have delayed things for 5 years?), and a cherry on top for damages.