Spammer's Grandparents to Let AOL Examine Back Yard

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The grandparents of a notorious Internet spammer say they will allow AOL to do an initial search of their property to see if their grandson buried gold there.

Robert Davis, the 90-year-old grandfather of Davis Wolfgang Hawke, said that after initially opposing AOL's request to survey his land and possibly dig there, he and his wife decided to compromise to avoid an expensive legal battle with the company.

They will allow the company to use radar and sonar equipment to find out if anything is buried in their yard in Westwood, a Boston suburb.

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Davis said if AOL detects anything underground and asks to dig up his yard, he may still oppose that.

"I don't want them digging," he said.

The Internet company wants to search for valuables it believes may be buried there to satisfy a $12.8 million judgment it won in federal court last year. A default judgment was entered against Hawke, who didn't show up in court.

Hawke was accused of violating U.S. and Virginia anti-spam laws by sending massive amounts of unwanted e-mails to AOL's subscribers.

At the height of their activities, Hawke and his partners earned more than $600,000 a month by sending unwanted sales pitches over the Internet for loans, pornography, jewelry and prescription drugs, investigators believe.

AOL believes Hawke may have buried gold and platinum he acquired with his ill-gotten gains on his grandparents' property and his parents' property in nearby Medfield.

Davis doesn't believe his grandson buried anything of value on his land. "I think there's one chance in 10 million," he said.

Hawke's mother, Peggy Greenbaum, has maintained she intends to fight AOL's attempts to search her property.

Nicholas Graham, a spokesman for AOL, declined comment Tuesday.